Former Kentucky governor and businessman John Y. Brown, Jr. has died at the age of 88.
While Brown served as governor from 1979 to 1983, his business ventures, sports ownerships and marriage to former Miss America Phyllis George are what he might be remembered for most.
He was born in Lexington in 1933 and was the son of former U.S. Representative John Y. Brown, Sr.
After a brief stint in the family’s law practice, Brown and a group of investors bought Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964 for $2 million, turning Col. Harland Sanders’ restaurants into a global chain.
In the 1970s, Brown purchased ownership stakes in several professional basketball teams.
In 1979, after marrying his second wife, Phyllis George, Brown won the Democratic party’s nomination for Kentucky governor and went on to defeat former Governor Louie B. Nunn.
Brown’s term as governor was marked by tough economic times, budget challenges, and state employee layoffs. After serving one term, his lieutenant governor, Martha Layne Collins, went on to become Kentucky’s first and only female governor.
Brown tried to make a political comeback in 1987 but failed to win the Democratic party’s nomination for governor.
After the defeat, Brown focused again on his business ventures which included teaming up with country star Kenny Rogers to create a chicken restaurant chain and later a meal prep kitchen concept with actress Suzanne Somers.
Brown’s business accomplishments put him on the Harvard Business School’s list of “Great American Business Leaders of the 20th Century.”