Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.
Owner of IHC for 30 years, in memory, continuing a chapter in Ralph's life.
Building and Improving America's Infrastructure
Ralph’s love for football and his Buffalo Bills is well known, as are his numerous contributions to the NFL and Western New York. He is also well known for his generous philanthropy that included several fields of medical research and many other commendable charitable organizations. What many may not know was Ralph’s ardor for the construction industry. Contractors are builders, and Ralph, the ultimate patriot, was very proud to be a part of building and improving America’s infrastructure.
In many ways, contracting personified Ralph Wilson’s passion for professional football. Construction pits brawn, brains, and strategic planning against physical obstacles, much like professional football. Contracting also places man against the forces of nature, such as the fierce winters in Buffalo or even the perilous seas, which Ralph faced as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy as a minesweeper. The competitive nature of winning or losing a hard bid no matter the obstacle was much like putting it all on the line on game day to Ralph.
Ralph Wilson Purchases IHC
In 1983, Ralph Wilson purchased IHC and put his faith in the hands of a young management team. Ultimately he gave us the freedom to thrive in the world of business through self-determination.
Of the People, By the People, and For the People
Mr. Wilson kept his public life and private lives relatively separate. He was most appreciative, fair and generous to those who reflected his ideals and mirrored his way of doing business. He expected and demanded of himself and those around him the most upright character. Trustworthiness, integrity, ethics and loyalty were very important traits. But what made Ralph different was that his ‘bar for excellence’ was high and these attributes had to be all inclusive and unwavering. We admired and respected Ralph for the person he was. For thirty years, IHC was able to meet his standard of excellence and thus he bestowed upon us one of his legacies and greatest gifts – ‘a company of the people, by the people, for the people’. For this we will forever be grateful, indebted and mindful of the man that so graciously expressed his gratitude to us in such an extraordinary way.
The future will be both fascinating and purposely aimed for IHC to continue on with one of the chapters in Ralph’s life, to carry on at IHC ‘in his way’, just like in the song of his favorite singer, Frank Sinatra.
An American Hero
It was February 2013, and Super Bowl XLVII was being held in New Orleans, LA. The National World War II Museum displayed a special exhibit at the entrance, "Heroes of the Gridiron". As part of the exhibit, there was what you’d expect: old jerseys, cleats and footballs; stories and videos of the NFL great games and players; Lombardi Trophies; etc. In conjunction with the museum, the NFL was honoring those that not only contributed greatly to the formation of the current day NFL, but also those that contributed their courageous service during WWII. Approaching the glass enclosure with those honored, the first cluster of medals were those of a great American hero, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving from 1941 to 1946. He earned his commission within a year and served aboard mine sweepers, earning the Commendation Medal for his service. Mr. Wilson graduated from the University of Virginia and attended the University of Michigan Law School. He then went on as one of the founders of the American Football League. Mr. Wilson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
It’s an honor that our own Mr. Wilson had given so much to his country, not only in building one of the most successful sporting leagues of all time, but also risking life and limb to preserve the United States of America from the tyranny approaching from both Europe and Asia. What endears us most to the WWII heroes like Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. is that they sought no personal glory. It was an age of quiet heroism and resolve which made him part of the Greatest Generation.
As Americans, we honor those who serve in harms way to preserve the freedoms we take for granted and as IHC team members, we are humbled that our former owner is one of those great American heroes.