About Us

The Founder:

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. moved to Detroit with his family when he was a youngster. He graduated from the University of Virginia and later attended law school at the altUniversity of Michigan, before enlisting in the Navy during World War II. He earned his commission within a year and served aboard minesweepers in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters and earned the Commendation Medal.

After the war, Wilson joined his father's insurance business. Through his career, Wilson has owned companies in the following industries: professional sports; trucking; construction; television; insurance; energy; and manufacturing.

Today, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. is most widely known as the owner of the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise. He created the team in 1959 when he, along with seven others, established the American Football League. He is the only original American Football League owner who has kept his team in its originating city. He has received numerous awards recognizing the impact he has made on the game of football including his role in the AFL-NFL merger and his dedication to the NFL having served on every league committee. He has been honored with numerous awards, such as the Pete Rozelle Award from the Touchdown Club in New Orleans, the NFL Alumni's "Order of the Leather Helmet" and the "Timmie" Award from the Touchdown Club of Washington D.C., but none were more appropriate than the Buffalo News naming him the "Tops Sports Figure" in Western New York in the past millennium.

Mr. Wilson has long been recognized for his diverse charitable endeavors.  For his tremendous charitable efforts in the Buffalo area over the years, Mr. Wilson was named the Seymour Knox III Humanitarian Award winner in the spring of 2003 and in 2007 he was named the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the WNY Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Also in 2007, he and his wife, Mary, were named the Philanthropists of the Year by the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

In 1999, Mr. Wilson established the Ralph Wilson Medical Research Foundation which  contributed over $11,000,000 to support medical research.  In 2006, the spirit of Super Bowl XL took over Mr. Wilson’s hometown of Detroit.  He wanted to support the effort and contributed the funds to build the "Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Athletic Field" as part of the NFL’s Youth Education Town legacy gift that was built in the city and is managed by the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan.

Mr. Wilson is also a strong supporter of education and has established scholarship programs at various colleges including "The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr Scholarship" at Canisius College in downtown Buffalo. In addition, as an alumnus of the University of Virginia, he endowed the University’s Jefferson Scholars Foundation with an ongoing fund that annually provides candidates from the Buffalo area with the ability to apply for the Foundation’s four-year, full-ride scholarship program.  At St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY, where the Bills host Training Camp, the Bills President has endowed an annual scholarship and is responsible for a building on campus that houses the College of Education.

Ralph Wilson maintains permanent residence in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI with his wife, Mary. An avid tennis fan and player for many years, Mr. Wilson and his partner, Bob Sherman, were the 85 and over age division runner-up champions in both the European Doubles and Austrian Doubles Championship tournaments in the summer of 2005.

Foundation Staff:

President: Ralph C. Wilson, Jr
Executive Director: Mary Owen
Treasurer: Jeff Littmann

Board of Trustees:

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Chairman
Eugene Driker
Jeff Littmann
Mary Owen
Mary Wilson