Frazier gave rare interview about his life to WHAS11


by Doug Proffitt

Posted on August 22, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 22 at 7:01 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- His likeness lives on in bronze outside the soccer fields he helped build at UofL.

You can find the name Frazier still on the rehab center his mother Amelia founded in 1951 because she had been in a car crash 30 years earlier with nowhere to go for rehab.

Plus the downtown history museum on West Main...that is all Owsley Brown Frazier. I asked him in 2003 why he and his family had been so generous?  “This city’s been fantastic to us and we want to give back. We take pride in that.”

Frazier last year gave UofL its single biggest donation: $25 million. In 2003, when he talked with us, he had just paid for the renovation of the mayor's office, and was still building and creating the Frazier History Museum. So is he the richest man in Louisville? After hemming and hawing an answer he chuckled and told me, “I’ll say this, I have a few dollars. I’m not denying that.”

Frazier spent 45 years at Brown-Forman, and really didn't like to do interviews. But nine years ago when he agreed to talk with me about his life, the museum, he said is his proudest achievement.

“It accomplishes two things, passions of mine, education and weapons history. We’re not talking bang bang shoot up ‘em stuff, but weapons and craftsmanship. Here’s Colt making a gun for George Custer. They are not going to send him a couple of sticks on rubber bands,” Owsley Brown Fraizer said.

Louisville's big money families have given back. Names like the Binghams , the Browns, Swope and David Jones of Humana.

Were they in competition?

“No, no. Don’t think of it that way. Not going to worry about to worry about the Joneses. And David, no pun intended!” Frazier said.     

He knew how he wanted to be remembered.

“You know, something very simple like a nice guy who cared,” Frazier said.

And as we closed our talk that day in 2003, he described the perfect evening for Owsley Brown Frazier.

“The end of the day, I'd rather go have a nice drink of Jack Daniels and dinner than sit around and think what good deeds I've done today,” Frazier said.

Jack Daniels: yes a Tennessee whiskey, but the top selling product in the Brown-Forman family of whiskeys.

Frazier continued to fund his museum until recently but at smaller percentages.

A spokeswoman says because of recent exhibits its now in the best financial shape it’s ever been in and that Frazier took care of the museum in his will.