Joe L. Allbritton, founder of Allbritton Communications, passes - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Joe L. Allbritton, founder of Allbritton Communications, passes away at age 87

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Joe L. Allbritton, founder of Allbritton Communications. (December 29, 1924 - December 12, 2012) Joe L. Allbritton, founder of Allbritton Communications. (December 29, 1924 - December 12, 2012)

Joe L. Allbritton, the founder of Allbritton Communications and owner of eight ABC Network affiliates including ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, passed away at the age of 87 Wednesday.

Allbritton Communications president Frederick Ryan said Allbritton died Wednesday of heart ailments at a hospital in Houston, where he lived.

A native of D'lo, Mississippi, Joe Lewis Allbritton, 88 (born December 29, 1924), was raised in Houston, Texas.  He served in the Navy during World War II and went on to receive both his undergraduate and law degrees from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he was celebrated as a national champion debater.

Making his mark first in the savings and loan and then banking industries both in the U.S. and abroad, Allbritton chaired the Houston International Bank, Houston Citizens Bank and University Bankshares.  He moved to Washington in 1975, where he was the Chairman and largest stockholder of the venerable Riggs National Bank.

Allbritton's renowned eye for businesses led him to own and operate varied businesses from insurance to real estate to funeral homes.  He made his mark in the media business by purchasing the Washington Star Newspaper and broadcast properties in 1974.  He remained the newspaper publisher until 1978, when he sold the paper to Time Magazine.  An owner of newspapers throughout the Northeast, Allbritton sought to expand the reach of his broadcast properties, which now include eight ABC Network affiliates in seven markets along with the award-winning local cable news channel in Washington.  His media holdings served as the springboard for the highly regarded print and web publication POLITICO, founded by Allbritton's son, Robert.

Noted for his extensive philanthropy, Allbritton has given generously to hundreds of charitable causes through the Allbritton Foundation, including Baylor Medical School, the Allbritton Art Institute, the Oxford Scholars, and establishment of the International School of Law, which has become the George Mason Law School in Virginia.  Allbritton's other passions included fine art collecting and thoroughbred racing, which was highlighted by the spectacular successes of his horse, Hansel, winner of the 1991 Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Allbritton is survived by his wife, Barbara, and son, Robert, along with grandchildren, Alex and Katherine.

Statement by the Family of Joe L. Allbritton:

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Joe L. Allbritton on Wednesday, December 12, 2012.  Joe was, first and foremost, a beloved and loyal husband, father, grandfather and friend.  His life was defined by a love, wit, charm and attentiveness that will be forever cherished by all of us.  Joe's life was also one of great achievement, as a businessman, innovator and philanthropist.  He was fiercely passionate and unfailingly generous.  He will be missed dearly.

"Details on Funeral arrangements will follow.

"We so appreciate the many messages of condolences and support in this time of profound loss."

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