Hamilton

'A community champion,' philanthropist and former Ticats owner, David Braley dies at 79

Hamilton mourns the loss of David Braley, a former owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, leader for sport in Hamilton, and an honoured philanthropist who gave millions of dollars to organizations in need.

Braley donated over $125 million to various organizations, the Ticats say

David Braley, a Hamilton philanthropist and a former owner of the Hamilton Ticats, has died at age 79. (Jimmy Jeong/The Canadian Press)

Hamilton is mourning the loss of David Braley, a former owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with three decades of success in the Canadian Football League (CFL), a supporter of sport in the city, and an honoured philanthropist.

Braley, who had owned the BC Lions since 1997, passed away in his Burlington, Ont., home at age 79, says a media release from the team.  

In a tweet, Mayor Fred Eisenberger called Braley a "community champion."

"David Braley's contributions live on and continue to make our city a better place," he wrote. "His passion for community, arts and sport was immeasurable."

He also journeyed into politics, when former Prime Minster Stephen Harper appointed Braley to the Canadian Senate in 2010, where he served for nearly three years. 

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2019 "for his contributions to the Canadian Football League, and for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic leadership in his community." 

His philanthropy was remembered in a tweet Monday from Hamilton Health Sciences.

"We are profoundly saddened by the passing of David Braley," it said. "He was a champion for the people of Hamilton and contributed so much to improving medical education and research to the benefit of the global community."

Braley was "an enthusiastic Hamiltonian and a wonderful benefactor to our community's hospitals and universities," Ticats caretaker Bob Young said in a media release. "The CFL and Hamilton communities have lost a great leader and champion today."

The first team Braley owned in the CFL was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1989 to 1992, when it returned to community ownership.

During his first season of ownership, the Ticats went to the Grey Cup.

"While David was well known for his role with the BC Lions, he was also always, at heart, a Ticat fan. Our sincerest condolences go out to David's family, and his wide circle of friends and admirers across our community," said Young. 

Braley went on to collect four Grey Cups during his time as an owner in the CFL. Three of them were with the BC Lions, and his last was with the Toronto Argonauts, which he owned from 2010 to 2015.

The Argonauts won the 100th Grey Cup in 2012. 

He also acted as chairman of the CFL's board of governors and served as an interim commissioner from March to November in 2002. 

Braley was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2012), McMaster Sports Hall of Fame (2007) and Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame (2006).

Tributes to man whose name adorns buildings across the city are being posted on social media. 

Along with contributions to football, Braley championed sport in Hamilton by helping to bring the World Cycling Championships to the city in 2012. 

He was also part of southern Ontario's successful bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games, which saw Tim Hortons Field host all 32 soccer matches. 

"David Braley...was our champion in every sense of the word," said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement. 

"David didn't just talk about this idea. He lived it. An owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, as well as the Argos and Lions, he often stepped in to sustain and turn around franchises when they needed him the most."

Braley was born in Montreal in 1941, but moved to Hamilton two years later. The Ticats say he discovered his true passion for football after attending his first Tiger-Cats game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. 

He played high school football at Westdale Secondary School, studied sciences at McMaster University, and worked with General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Hamilton and then with London Life Insurance.

In 1969, he purchased William Orlick Industries, which is now known as Orlick Industries, and transformed it into a leading manufacture of aluminum die-cast auto parts that provided hundreds of jobs in the Hamilton area. 

Braley has donated over $125 million to various organizations, says the Ticats media release. 

From August 2006 to June 2007, he donated $50 million to McMaster's medical school and another $5 million for the university's athletic centre, which is named after him. 

Braley also gave $10 million to Hamilton Health Sciences for a new cardiac, vascular and research institute, also named after the philanthropist, and $5 million to St. Joseph's Healthcare for operating rooms and kidney care. 

now