Brown-Forman regrettably announced the death of former long-time executive William M. Street after a courageous multi-year battle against cancer.
Born September 23, 1938 in Louisville, KY to Daniel Street (former president of Brown-Forman) and Frances (Woodruff) Street, Bill Street graduated from Princeton University, earned his MBA from Harvard University, and worked at Brown-Forman his entire career, rising from a sales trainee when he joined the company in 1956 to President of the corporation when he retired in 2003. He also served on Brown-Forman’s board of directors for 40 years before retiring from it in 2011.
“Bill Street will be remembered fondly by us all as an enormously successful Brown-Forman president and board member, a luminary in the global spirits industry, and a prominent Louisville civic leader,” said Brown-Forman Chief Executive Officer Paul Varga. “Most notably, however, he will be remembered as a gracious and good man who enriched the lives of so many people at our company and in our community. We will miss him dearly, and our thoughts are very much with his wife Lindy and his family on this sad occasion.”
“Working closely at that time with Brown-Forman Corporation Chairman and CEO Owsley Brown II, Bill and other executives developed and implemented the company’s globalization strategy in the mid-1990s, propelling Brown-Forman to expand its international business to encompass more than 170 countries around the globe,” stated Brown-Forman Chairman Garvin Brown. “This strategy was the foundation that enabled the company’s outstanding period of growth and success over the last 20 years. Bill was also a strong source of stability on the Brown-Forman Board of Directors for over four decades and his counsel during that span is directly reflected in the company’s remarkable standing today,” added Brown.
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Bill served on the boards of Papa John’s International, Inc. and the Filson Historical Society. He was director emeritus of the Metropolitan YMCA of Greater Louisville and Louisville Collegiate School. He was former chairman of Greater Louisville, Inc., the Governor’s Scholars Program, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, a position he held from 2004 to 2008. He was inducted into the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and Kentucky Bourbon Festival’s Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2016. He was also named to the Kenuckiana Business Hall of Fame in 2012 by Junior Achievement; was a 2004 recipient of Greater Louisville Inc.’s Gold Cup award for outstanding business and civic leadership; and received the Spirit of Louisville award in 2003 from the YMCA of Greater Louisville.
Perhaps no greater testament to Bill’s character and leadership came from the late Owsley Brown II, who said when Bill retired from Brown-Forman in 2003:
“Bill Street is a paragon of leadership for corporate America. He has conducted himself with the utmost integrity as he constantly strived to meet the needs of Brown-Forman’s constituents – our shareholders, our management team, our partners, the communities where we work, and, of course, our employees.”
The 2016 Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Inductees
- Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller, Wild Turkey (Lifetime Achievement)
- Barry Becton, Senior Director of State Government Affairs, Diageo North America
- Joy Perrine, author and veteran award-winning bartender at Equus Restaurant and Jack’s Lounge in Louisville
- John Rhea, former Chief Operating Officer, Four Roses Distillery
- William M. Street, former President, Brown-Forman Corp. (Woodford Reserve Distillery, Old Forester Distillery and more.)
The complete story about the Class of 2016 Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famers can be found here.