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Bills to honor founding owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. with statue

Buffalo Bills founding owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. will be honored with a statue outside the stadium that bears his name, the team announced Wednesday afternoon -- on the one-year anniversary of his death.

Wilson, who passed away March 25, 2014 at the age of 95, was the sole owner of the Bills for 54 seasons after purchasing the team on Oct. 28, 1959. He guided the franchise to two American Football League championships and an unprecedented run of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s. He is one of 11 members of the organization to be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

After Wilson's death, the team was sold to Terry and Kim Pegula, also owners of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.

"Mr. Wilson was an icon in both the professional football world and in the Western New York community," Kim Pegula said in a news release issued through the team. "This is our opportunity to honor his legacy and to allow our fans to share their gameday experience with the man brought professional football to Buffalo."

The statue, which will be the first at Ralph Wilson Stadium,  will be displayed in a new "Founder's Plaza," which is to be constructed northwest of The Bills Store, which sits along Abbott Road.

"It just seems so fitting to honor Ralph with a statue in Founder's Plaza where fans will have the opportunity to interact and pose for photos," said Mary Wilson, Ralph Wilson's widow, who will collaborate on the construction of the statue with the Pegulas. "Ralph was so approachable and he absolutely loved the fans and he would have been honored and humbled to stand among them for all time.

"I think everyone will appreciate the detail in the statue, even to the point that it replicates what Ralph wore to the stadium on game days."

The statue will be constructed based on a photo of Wilson taken with Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas along the sidelines of a game against the New York Jets on Oct. 21, 1990.

Additional details on when the statue will be unveiled will be announced at a later date.

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