John Y. Brown Jr., the former Democratic governor of Kentucky, has died at age 88.
“Our Dad, John Y. Brown Jr., not only dreamed the impossible dream, he lived it until the very end. His positive attitude and zest for life was unrivaled and allowed him to beat the odds many times over,” Pamela Brown, CNN’s anchor and senior Washington correspondent, said in a statement.
“Every day was an exciting adventure for him. He was a true Kentucky original who beamed with pride for his home state and its people. He had many prominent accomplishments, but most of all he loved his family with all of his heart, and we in turn loved him with all of our hearts. We are heartbroken by his passing, but find comfort in what he wrote in one of his final days, ‘I have never been so happy.’”
Born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1933, Brown attended the University of Kentucky and served in the US Army Reserve before turning his attention to the restaurant business.
Brown helped build Kentucky Fried Chicken into a fast-food juggernaut. He would go on to leverage his name recognition in the state into a successful bid for governor, leading the state from 1979 to 1983.
During his tenure, according to the National Governors Association, Brown brought “record commerce” to Kentucky and reduced the state budget by more than 20%.
News of his passing prompted an immediate outpouring of messages from political figures in and out of Kentucky.
Gov. Andy Beshear hailed Brown as “a remarkable leader who was committed to serving the people of Kentucky.”
“He made our commonwealth a better place. Britainy and I are praying for his family and loved ones,” Beshear, a Democrat, said in a tweet.
Brown is survived by his sons, Lincoln and John Brown III, his daughters, Pamela Brown Wright, Sandy Steier and Sissy Brown, and his grandchildren, Vivienne and Benny Wright, Eleanor, Grace, Brooks and Colson Steier, Maggie Brown, John Brown IV, Will and Meg Talley, Lindo Mfeka and Will Alondamwani.
This story is breaking and will be updated.