William J. Bresnan, Chairman of Bresnan Communications, died November 27 at his home in Greenwich, CT from complications of cancer. Just two days earlier Bresnan had named Jeffrey DeMond as chief executive officer of the MSO. (For that announcement, click here).
Bresnan’s 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, headquartered in Purchase, NY.
Born in Mankato, MN, 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. Bresnan served as president of TelePrompTer’s Cable Television Division from 1974 to 1981, at which time Westinghouse Electric purchased TelePrompTer and Bresnan became chairman and CEO of the new company, Group W Cable.
He left that post in 1984 to found Bresnan Communications, which initially operated cable systems both in the upper Midwest and internationally and which currently operates throughout the Rocky Mountain states. Under Bresnan’s leadership the company established a unique niche as a provider of advanced telecommunications services to small and mid-sized communities. Many members of his executive team, including three sons and his brother Patrick, have worked alongside him over the company’s 25-year history.
Industry leaders respond
Kyle McSlarrow, President & CEO, of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said, “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.”
"Bill was an extraordinary man who, as a small cable operator himself, recognized the contributions of independent operators to the ongoing growth of the industry," said American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polka.
"Bill Bresnan was a well respected statesman and a true pioneer in our industry. A long-term member of the CableLabs Board of Directors, he had the admiration and affection of those who knew him," said Paul Liao, president and CEO of CableLabs.??
"Bill was my mentor and friend," said Dick Green, former president and CEO of CableLabs. "His 21 years of advocacy and leadership on the CableLabs Board served the industry well. His direction helped us understand and address the needs of the smaller market companies."
"Bill’s vision, passion and leadership made the very existence of The Cable Center possible," said Larry Satkowiak, president and CEO of The Cable Center. "Throughout our organization’s history, Bill has always been there; giving generously of his time, his expertise and his financial resources."
Bresnan was predeceased by his wife of 43 years, Barbara Boettcher Bresnan, with whom he had five children. He is survived by his current wife Ann Lessing Bresnan, her five children, his six children, 11 grandchildren and a brother and sister.
A memorial service will be held at St. Mary’s Church in Greenwich, CT on Wednesday, December 2nd at 11 am. The wake will be held Monday, November 30 and Tuesday, December 1 between 4 – 8 pm at the Leo P. Gallagher & Sons funeral home at 31 Arch Street also in Greenwich.