By far the youngest member of the Packers Executive Committee when first elected in the early 1980s, John Fabry died Monday night at the age of 74.
Originally elected to the franchise’s Board of Directors in 1980, Fabry was elected to the Executive Committee the following year at the age of 42, at least 20 years younger than every other member of the group.
Fabry became Vice President in 1989 and served in that role all 19 years of Bob Harlan’s tenure as President and CEO of the organization.
“He was probably the start of a turnaround of that committee,” Harlan said in brief phone interview with packers.com. “He was a very valuable companion. We went through some significant times together, and I had to bounce a lot of ideas off him as we moved forward.”
Some of those ideas Harlan recalled were the decision to leave Milwaukee and move all of the team’s home games to Green Bay in 1994, the stock sale in 1997, and the referendum to support the initial Lambeau Field redevelopment, which was completed in 2003.
A major move before all of that came in 1991, when Harlan wanted to remove Tom Braatz as general manager in the middle of the season and hire Ron Wolf. The timing was out of the ordinary, but Harlan wanted Wolf to process everything going on with the football operation before the season ended, to get a jump start on turning the team around.
Harlan went to the Executive Committee for approval, and he got a strong vote of confidence in front of the group from Fabry.
“John stood up and said, ‘Bob feels he needs to do it now if he’s going to change football situation,’ and I got a unanimous vote out of the Executive Committee,” Harlan said. “He fought for me on something that was very unusual, and it was. John supported me very strongly on that and it paid off.”
President of the Saranac Glove Co. of Green Bay when he became a Packers executive, Fabry was a native of Green Bay and a multi-sport star at Premontre High School. He went on to play quarterback and defensive back for the Wisconsin Badgers in the early 1960s and even had a tryout as a quarterback with the Packers under Vince Lombardi in 1963.
Fabry’s run as Vice President ended in October 2007 and he became Director Emeritus in 2009.
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