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John Y. Brown Jr. at his home in Lexington on Monday, July 14, 2014. This year marked the 50th anniversary of Brown and his partner purchasing Kentucky Fried Chicken from Col. Harlan Sanders. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Employee

Lexington Herald-Leader

Former Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown, who died this week at the age of 88, will be buried in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfurt on Tuesday.

Brown, a Democrat, was the 55th Commonwealth Governor, serving from December 1979 to December 1983, as well as a businessman who turned Kentucky Fried Chicken into a global fast-food powerhouse.

Brown will be in state Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and his family will be hosting a public viewing at the rotunda from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The public is invited to participate.

A private memorial service will follow Wednesday for the public to view on Kentucky Educational Television and ket.org.

According to Brown’s children, he died from a series of health problems stemming from COVID-19 complications that began this summer. He was in the Lexington intensive care unit for three weeks before he died, they said.

“Reg. Brown was a remarkable leader committed to serving the people of Kentucky. He has made our Commonwealth a better place,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement.

Born in Lexington, Brown was the son of former US Rep. John Y. Brown Sr., who also served as Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives and a member of the state Legislature for over 30 years.

In the 1960s, Brown was an early investor in fast food. He met Harland Sanders in 1963 and bought Kentucky Fried Chicken for $2 million in 1964 with Jack C. Massey. He built it into the world’s largest fast food chain before selling it in 1971 for $284 million.

Brown married former Miss America and CBS sportscaster Phyllis George in 1979. He interrupted their honeymoon to announce his candidacy for governor and funded the campaign largely from his own fortune. He defeated former Republican Gov. Louie B. Nunn by a wide margin in the general election.

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Tessa joined the Herald-Leader in August 2022 as Frankfort Bureau Chief. Tessa is a native of Bowling Green and graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2013. Tessa has also reported in Texas, Florida and Louisville covering education, criminal justice and the police.

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