Bill Kelly: David Braley was a champion for Hamilton and for Canada

B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Hamilton — and Canada, for that matter — lost an iconic and passionate citizen with the death of David Braley on Monday.

Membership in the Order of Canada, the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame are just some of the accolades bestowed upon him.

He was an incredibly successful entrepreneur. When he founded  Orlick Industries, there were only three employees in the company. He grew Orlick into an internationally recognized leader in auto parts manufacturing and, yes, he kept the company in Hamilton.

He parlayed his passion for sports into so many endeavours.

Read more: Rick Zamperin — David Braley saved the CFL on more than one occasion

He took over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1989, when they were on the verge of bankruptcy.

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Years later, he purchased the financially strapped BC Lions and later, the Toronto Argonauts and breathed life into those franchises and into the CFL.

He chaired the committee that brought the very successful World Road Cycling Championship to Hamilton.

Braley was also the first Hamiltonian to serve in the Canadian Senate, and then, of course, is his remarkable philanthropy.

Read more: Former senator, CFL franchise owner David Braley’s legacy shaped Hamilton

He donated millions of dollars to health care and education in Hamilton.

He recently led the charge and helped finance renovations to the world-famous rock garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

When asked a couple of years ago why he was so generous with his time and his money, he replied: “I’m making sure Hamilton has the best. I think Hamilton is a very special place.”

David Braley, a champion for Hamilton and a champion for his country.

He will be missed.

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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