Saturday, November 28, 2009

William J. Bresnan, Cable Industry Pioneer, Dies at 75 11/28/09 Boston - Cable television industry pioneer William J. Bresnan died Friday, November 27th, at his home in Greenwich, CT from complications of cancer.

Mr. Bresnan's death was announced today by Bresnan Communications, the privately held cable multiple system operator (MSO) headquartered in Purchase, NY which he founded in 1984 and served as Chairman of until his death. His 50-year career in the industry began as an engineer in the earliest days of the business and led first to leadership posts in some of the industry’s largest cable companies and ultimately to the founding of his own company.

Mr. Bresnan was predeceased by his wife of 43 years, Barbara Boettcher Bresnan, with whom he had six children. He is survived by his current wife Ann Lessing Bresnan, her five children, his six children, 11 grandchildren and a brother and sister.

Born in Mankato, MN, Mr. Bresnan designed and built his first cable system in nearby Rochester, MN at the age of 25. When that system was acquired by West Coast entrepreneur Jack Kent Cooke in 1965, he joined the Cooke executive team. Cooke’s holdings ultimately were merged with TelePrompTer Corporation, at that time the nation’s largest cable operating company. Mr. Bresnan served as President of TelePrompTer’s Cable Television Division from 1974 to 1981, at which time Westinghouse Electric purchased TelePrompTer and Mr. Bresnan became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the new company, Group W Cable.

He left that post in 1984 to found Bresnan Communications, which first operated cable systems in Michigan's Upper Peninsular, and then expanded with systems in Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. Bresnan International Partners, launched in 1994, operated systems in Chile and Poland. Mr. Bresnan’s operational signature was to be a provider of advanced telecom services to small and mid-sized communities.

In commenting on Mr. Bresnan’s passing, Jeffrey S. DeMond, Chief Executive Officer of Bresnan Communications, said, “Bill Bresnan hired good, smart people and led by example. He gave us the mission to succeed not just by doing things right but by doing the right thing as well, and each of our lives is richer for having learned from him. His final lesson to all of us was his valiant battle against cancer, fought fiercely and with never a complaint.”

Kyle McSlarrow, President & CEO, of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) said upon hearing of Mr. Bresnan’s passing “This is an irreplaceable and heartbreaking loss. Bill Bresnan was one of our industry’s titans – an industry pioneer, visionary entrepreneur, and technology leader who built companies that always put employees and customers first.”

Throughout his career Mr. Bresnan was deeply involved with all of the major industry associations, serving on numerous Boards of Directors. He often testified on the industry’s behalf before the FCC and U.S. Congressional committees on a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues. Long cited as one of the industry’s leading champions of technological advancement, Mr. Bresnan played a key role in the development of the first domestic satellite transmission for cable as well as the implementation of the country’s first commercial fiber optic communications system.

He was the recipient of virtually every award and recognition within the cable industry,
and was inducted into both the Cable Television Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.

A memorial service will be held at St. Mary’s Church at 178 Greenwich Ave. in Greenwich, CT on Wednesday, December 2nd at 11 am. The wake will be held Monday, November 30th and Tuesday, December 1st between 4 pm and 8 pm at the Leo P. Gallagher & Sons funeral home at 31 Arch Street also in Greenwich.
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