He was 95.
Team president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL Annual Meeting today.
Wilson was one of the original founders of the American Football League and was instrumental in the early days of the league.
He was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Governor Andrew Cuomo:
“Today we lost a legendary member of the New York family. Ralph Wilson Jr., the last remaining original team owner of an AFL franchise, member of the NFL Hall of Fame, and founder of the Buffalo Bills, gave us a team that has been the pride of Western New York for the past 54 years. The Bills remain, to this day, an economic engine for the region, generating revenue and providing jobs at a stadium that will bear Mr. Wilson’s name for years to come. From his military service during World War II, to his ownership of the Bills, Mr. Wilson left a legacy of leadership that helped keep the team in Buffalo for more than half a century. His passion for football and dedication to his community epitomized the spirit of the Buffalo Bills and their fans. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and the entire Bills organization.”
“We were so deeply saddened to hear about the passing of our friend Ralph Wilson Jr. It's hard for any of us who have been touched by Mr. Wilson's passion for philanthropy to adequately convey the magnitude of his support. He was an advocate for advancing medical research and an active partner with all of the organizations his philanthropy supported. The Ralph Wilson Medical Research Foundation has provided instrumental funding of more than $11 million to support numerous national medical research organizations, including Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
For more than a decade Mr. Wilson has been a major supporter of Roswell Park, providing nearly $2 million in seed funding that fueled various research endeavors and moved innovative and promising medical research ideas forward. He also cared deeply about the patients at Roswell Park, compassion evidenced by his recent gift of an additional $1 million to help construct the Institute’s new Clinical Sciences Center, funds which were specifically earmarked to help build a new chemotherapy unit for patients. His support for that critical clinical expansion will help to ensure that his generosity will impact patients’ lives for decades to come. Mr. Wilson was a giant in Western New York with ties that expanded the nation in so many respects, and his loss is deeply felt.”
Candace Johnson, PhD Deputy Director, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, N.Y. Past Chair, Ralph Wilson Medical Research Foundation