A local legend in news media and stalwart contributor to Batavia community groups, William F. Brown Jr., 91, passed away Saturday at Rochester General Hospital after a brief illness.
Brown's lengthy career included owning and managing WBTA, writing for various area publications, authoring books as well as being the first chairman of the Board of Trustees of Notre Dame High School and serving as president of the Board of Directors for St. Jerome's Hospital.
“The community has lost a talented broadcaster and WBTA has lost a dear friend," said Dan Fischer, current owner of WBTA. "Bill’s wit was razor sharp and his knowledge of Genesee County history was encyclopedic. During his stewardship of WBTA, Bill set a standard for public service and broadcast news. We honor his legacy by trying to continue that standard as best we can.”
Brown was born Oct. 25, 1923 in Batavia, the son of the late William F. Brown Sr. and Monica Sellinger Brown.
He was a 1941 graduate of Batavia High School and a graduate of Canisius College. He also studied at Yale and Fordham universities and was an Army veteran of World War II where he worked for the Armed Forces Radio Service in Kokura, Japan.
After his military service, he was public relations director for Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway for several years before becoming co-owner and manager of WBTA Radio in 1968.
At WBTA, he distinguished himself with daily outspoken editorials dealing with local issues and humorous vignettes about family life. He won 16 statewide “Best Editorial Awards” in his career from the New York State Broadcasters Association.
He remained a member of the United States Harness Writers Association for more than 55 years. He served as secretary for several years and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.
Besides his community work with Notre Dame and St. Jerome's, he was a trustee emeritus of the Jerome Foundation, a member of the Board of Catholic Education of the Diocese of Buffalo and lay chairman of the Bishop’s Lay Advisory Council. He was a lector and eucharistic minister at Resurrection Parish and a Knight of St. Gregory and a Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
He was active in many local civic organizations throughout his life, including the Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus and the Elks. He was a lifelong member of Stafford Country Club.
His books on local history include a popular publication on the Linden Murders. He also wrote columns for the Batavia Daily News and was Genesee County correspondent for the Buffalo News at the time of his death.
Calling hours are 3 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, at H.E. Turner, 403 E. Main St., Batavia. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, 9:30 a.m. at Resurrection Parish, St. Joseph Church, 303 E. Main St.. Batavia. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery. The Knights of Columbus will hold a prayer service on Wednesday at 6:30 pm.
For the full obituary, click here.
Photo: From a Rotary lunch in 2012