Inside The Bills

Wilson Foundation donates $2.5M to HOF

Posted by Chris Brown on February 17, 2016 – 3:09 pm

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has provided a sizable grant to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall announced on Wednesday that they are the recipient of a $2.5 million grant from the Wilson Foundation earmarked for a variety of Hall of Fame programs and projects.

Among the projects is a dramatic holographic theater experience concentrating on the values learned from the game. Other initiatives funded by the grant include the digitization of the Hall of Fame archives that will focus on developing a comprehensive digital archive for every NFL player past and present. Also, $1 million of the grant will be set aside to create an endowment to support Hall of Fame programs on an annual basis.

Wilson Foundation Executive Vice President and Life Trustee Mary Owen was joined by Hall of Fame President David Baker Wednesday at the Hall of Fame to make the announcement.

“Ralph Wilson’s legacy was forever bronzed in Canton through his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said Baker. “His great love of the game and strong desire to preserve its history was made ever so evident when in 2012 he provided a generous $2.5 million gift to fund Hall of Fame’s new Research & Preservation Center, now named in his honor. This generous additional gift from the Foundation is further evidence of the special appreciation Ralph had for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and its Mission.”

The Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research & Preservation Center was dedicated in August 2012 and today the state-of-the-art archive is home to more than 30 million pages of documents and five million photographic images.

“We are proud to announce today’s donation to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and honored to be a part of preserving the legacy of both Ralph Wilson and the game of football,” said Owen. “This grant will support the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s efforts to fulfill its mission through providing a state of the art museum experience rich in content from the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Research and Preservation Center.

Owen, who serves as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Advisory Committee, and Wilson’s niece, was at the Hall of Fame on Wednesday where Owen and Baker made the announcement at the entrance of the world-class archive that bears her uncle’s name.


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One final tribute

Posted by Chris Brown on October 8, 2014 – 7:43 pm

The NFL owners approved Kim and Terry Pegula as the new owners of the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, and after the applause died down, there was another round of applause given for the late Ralph Wilson and those who served under his leadership.

“I did mention that after the Pegulas were approved as owners how important Ralph Wilson was to the league,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “How important he was to me personally. How much respect I had for his leadership, his ownership of the Bills and what he’s meant to Western New York. I’m confident that Terry and Kim are going to build on that legacy. They will take the Bills to another level and I think Mr. Wilson would be very proud of the outcome.”

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon, who worked closely with Jeff Littmann and Mary Owen, who were serving as Trustees for the Wilson ownership, knew that it was a day that brought closure for them as they handed off ownership to the Pegulas.

“Certainly Jeff (Littmann) and Mary (Owen) were in there during the vote and it was an emotional scene for them,” said Brandon. “Commissioner Goodell mentioned the Wilson family, Ralph and Mary and what they’ve meant. The 53 years that Mr. Wilson gave to the National Football League and everything he’s meant to this league and to the people in that room. No one loved being in that room more than Ralph Wilson, and a great respect for the league and for the game of football. The reason we’re all standing here is what he built with a lot of other owners over many years.

“Jeff and Mary have been tremendous stewards of the Wilson family and great members of NFL membership. It was a nice moment when the Pegulas came in and knowing that for years to come we have Buffalo Bills to be focused on and that’s it.”


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