CINCINNATI -- Former Cincinnati Bengals team president and part-owner John Sawyer died Thursday morning in Cincinnati, according to the Bengals. He was 90 years old.
Considered one of the franchise's founders, Sawyer was part of the group that represented the city as it bid to bring the original American Football League franchise to southwest Ohio in 1967. The group included Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown and his son, current Bengals president Mike Brown. When the Bengals were established in 1968, Sawyer served as their president until 1993. He then served one more year as team vice president.
"John was a pioneer with the Bengals," Mike Brown said in a news release. "The team wouldn't have come into existence were it not for his efforts.
"We lost a critical business partner, as well as a close dear friend."
Sawyer had long been one of the Brown family's key advisers. He also was at one point a part-owner of the Cincinnati Reds, and helped spearhead efforts to build Riverfront Stadium. The stadium opened in 1970 and was home to the Bengals and Reds for more than 30 years. On Tuesday, the Reds' current home, Great American Ball Park, will host Major League Baseball's All-Star Game.
Sawyer was also known around the region for his agricultural and real estate firm, the J. Sawyer Company, based in Cincinnati. He created a variety of aerially applied crop pesticides and was inducted in 1983 into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.
In addition to his business pursuits, Sawyer served in World War II as a B-17 pilot.
Preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, Sawyer is survived by four daughters and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.