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Former Brown-Forman boss dies aged 69

Published:  28 September, 2011

Former Brown-Forman chief executive and chairman Owsley Brown II died earlier this week in Kentucky.

The 69-year-old credited with driving the firm's global strategy died on Monday after a brief illness.

Brown, the fourth generation of the business's founding family, began his career in 1968, became chief executive in 1993 and chairman two years later. He retired from the CEO role in 2005, as chairman in 2007, and from the board of directors in 2008. Brown achieved success in expanding the group's international business and modernising its marketing programme for brands such as Jack Daniel's, Southern Comfort, and Finlandia.

"Owsley was a personal friend to so many of us across the world and we are all shocked and saddened by his premature death," said Brown-Forman chief executive Paul Varga. "Owsley was a truly remarkable man with a brilliant mind. His combined analytical and creative talents enabled him to be both a visionary and a practical steward of the company's business. He generously shared these unique gifts to build Brown-Forman into the global success it is today and to establish long-lasting friendships throughout our industry."

Peter H Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council said: "Brown represented the very best of American business leadership with the strongest emphasis on community and social responsibility. A visionary who was the architect of Brown-Forman's global strategy, Brown, as chief executive and chairman, led the company's extraordinary growth in markets around the world. Yet Brown never wavered in his commitment to his community, where his legacy includes his support of the arts, historic preservation and many other charitable activities.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and the entire Brown-Forman community."

Brown was a Yale graduate, obtained an MBA from Stanford University and then served as an intelligence officer in the US Army at the Pentagon.

He is survived by his wife, Christy; three children, Owsley III (Victoire), Brooke Barzun (Matthew), and Augusta Holland (Gill); and nine grandchildren.