When Owsley Calls, People Listen


Every U of L fan who appreciates the phenomenal growth of the University of Louisville owes a debt of gratitude to Owsley Brown Frazier. This giant of a man has dreamed big, given generously and worked tirelessly on U of L’s behalf, always demanding and expecting excellence.

A U of L grad with two degrees and an ardent Card fan, Frazier joined the family business, Brown Forman Corp., in 1960, rising to the position of Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. Despite the demands of the business, Frazier continued to serve in a wide variety of capacities at the university, including the Board of Trustees and the Board of Overseers.

You will find his name on many academic and athletic facilities. Gifts have ranged a $350,000 donation in 1984 to the College of Business and Public Administration to $1 million in 1998 to refurbish the U of L President’s home on Longest Avenue. He has contributed well over $1 million to athletics, and was the force behind Cardinal Park, which bears his name, and also has been involved in the downtown arena project and the Papa John’s Stadium expansion. As U of L Magazine noted:

What makes Frazier such a successful fund-raiser is that he works only for causes in which he believes. He would not ask anyone else to contribute money or time to something unless he has done so himself. “My leadership style is to be a convincer, to demonstrate my own belief in a project, which makes me a more powerful salesperson,” he says.

When Owsley calls, people listen. Frazier not only gives generously but he also uses his clout to get the financial support and personal involvement of other movers and shakers. While he appreciates and supports the arts, Brown broke the mold of old-money Louisville families by also providing strong backing for U of L athletics. Name a major project at U of L, and he has probably been involved.

So this observer takes this opportunity to thank Owsley Brown Frazier for what he has done and continues to do. Equally important is what his efforts will make possible in the future. Thank you, indeed.

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Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

1 thought on “When Owsley Calls, People Listen”

  1. Have admired this man from afar for many years for his ability to get other movers and shakers off the dime. He is to Louisville what Auggie Busch was to St. Louis. Count me among those who appreciate all that he has done for our community. In addition to U of L, he has been very generous to Bellarmine where they recently named the new soccer field in his honor.

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