(WGR 550) -- On Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills made the announcement that they never wanted to make. Speaking at the owner's meetings in Orlando, Florida, Bills CEO and Team President Russ Brandon announced that Ralph C. Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95.
Wilson, the founder of the Bills and the only owner they have ever known, passed away at his Detroit-area home. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, Wilson is survived by his wife, Mary, and two daughters, Christy and Edith.
The long-time Bills owner originally entered the NFL as a minority owner of the Detroit Lions, and then elected to jump to the American Football League and start a team of his own in Buffalo. The Bills had their first season on the field in 1960 as one of the AFL's orignal teams, and then joined the NFL when the two leagues merged in 1970.
Wilson also served as the team's president through 2000, and then retired to give control to then general manager Tom Donahoe. Upon Donahoe's parting from the organization, Wilson resumed his role as team president until stepping down on January 1, 2013 to make Brandon the new man in charge of the franchise.
The Bills made it to the Super Bowl four times with Wilson as the owner, all of which coming in four straight seasons in the NFL. The team played, and lost, in Super Bowls XXV (1990), XXVI (1991), XXVII (1992) and XXVIII (1993). Buffalo has made the playoffs 13 times since joining the NFL in 1970, with their last appearance coming in 1999.
In recent years, Wilson's health had been declining with events that left him hospitalized. In 2011, the Bills owner broke his hip due to a fall at home and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Then in 2012, he had to be treated for an infection in August just prior to the start of that season.
Born in 1918, Wilson is a graduate of the University of Virginia, University of Michigan Law School and is also a veteran of the United States Navy with his service in World War II.