OKLAHOMA CITY — William C. Brown, former NACS president and founder of 7-Eleven Stores in Oklahoma, passed away Aug. 25. He was 89 years old.
Born July 27, 1927, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Brown attended the University of Notre Dame before and after his enlistment in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. While at Notre Dame, he met his future wife, Carol. For years Brown worked in San Antonio, Texas, before he and his family moved to Oklahoma City in 1952, NACS Online reported.
Once in Oklahoma City, Brown developed the idea to build a chain of conveniently located stores that stocked all the things consumers needed or wanted in the moment, from ice and refreshments to grocery staples. Thus, 7-Eleven Stores was born.
To this day, 7-Eleven Oklahoma remains a completely separate company from 7-Eleven Inc. Both companies share the name and trademark of 7-Eleven, but only 7-Eleven Stores in Oklahoma have continued to be owned by the Brown family.
Brown went on to serve as NACS president from 1975-1976. During his time, he oversaw the first NACS trade show and educational exhibition, where 300 booths were exhibited, according to NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
Brown was an avid golfer, devoted parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church. He was also a supporter of Notre Dame and became a member of the school's business council. He and his wife supported a number of charities, including the Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity, Great Expectations Foundation of Tahlequah, Okla., and various national and international Catholic charities.
In 2014, Brown was awarded the "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice," or the Cross of Honor by Pope Francis, presented by Archbishop Coakley. It is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity by the Pope, according to NACS.
"To whom much is given, much is expected. That's how he lived his life," said Jim Brown, William's son and CEO of 7-Eleven Stores. "He lived his life to share his blessings. There are people on this planet who have no idea what he's done for them. Some people in the community are aware; most aren't. That's how he would have preferred it."
Brown was preceded in death by his parents, a sister and his wife of over 62 years, Carol. He is survived by his sister Pat, as well as his eight children and their spouses, and 28 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.