Joe Allbritton

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Joe Allbritton
BornDecember 29, 1924
D'Lo, Mississippi, United States
DiedDecember 12, 2012(2012-12-12) (aged 87)
Houston, Texas, United States
Alma materBaylor University
OccupationBusinessperson, banker, publisher
Spouse(s)Barbara Allbritton
ChildrenRobert Allbritton

Joe Lewis Allbritton was an American banker, publisher and philanthropist.

Early life[edit]

Joe Allbritton was born on December 29, 1924 in D'Lo, Mississippi, the sixth of seven children. His family soon relocated to Houston, Texas, where his father owned a small business. Allbritton served in the United States Navy during World War II. He completed his undergraduate degree and law degree from Baylor University, where he was a national champion debater.[1]


After naval service and law school, he borrowed $5,000 to buy land outside Houston, which was later used in the construction of a freeway connecting Houston and Galveston, earning Allbritton a small fortune. He also chaired Houston International Bank, Houston Citizens Bank and University Bankshares.[1]

In 1975, he purchased The Washington Star along with its television station and smaller stations in the south. In 1978, he was forced to divest the newspaper. This became the foundation of his company, Allbritton Communications, which includes WJLA-TV,[2] NewsChannel 8, short lived Internet venture TBD, and Politico, now run by his son, Robert Allbritton.[3]

From 1981 to 2001, he was chairman of Riggs Bank, when he resigned due to prostate cancer; Robert assumed the chairman position after his resignation; the bank was later purchased by PNC in 2005.[4]


Allbritton and his wife, Barbara, were major contributors through to numerous organizations through the Allbritton Foundation. Organizations they donated to including the Baylor College of Medicine, the Allbritton Art Institute, the Oxford Scholars, and the establishment of the International School of Law, which has become the George Mason University School of Law.

He sat on the boards of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to which he donated the official White House portrait of President Reagan.[1] He contributed to Washington National Cathedral, where he was made a Lay canon.[5]

In 2011 he attended the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in London.[6]

Thoroughbred racing[edit]

Allbritton also made a name for himself in thoroughbred horse racing. In 1991, his 3-year-old horse, Hansel, won two legs of the U.S. Triple Crown series, the Preakness and the Belmont stakes.[1]


He died on December 12, 2012, aged 87, of heart trouble, in Houston, Texas.[7] He is survived by his widow, Barbara, and their son, Robert and two grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Notice of death of Joe Allbritton
  2. ^ "Joe L. Allbritton, founder of Allbritton Communications, dies at 87". December 12, 2012. WJLA-TV. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  3. ^ Brown, Emma (December 12, 2012). "Joe L. Allbritton, communications giant who led Riggs Bank into disrepute, dies at 87". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  4. ^ Hamilton, Martha (15 Feb 2001). "A Local Banker All the Way". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Memorial Service for Canon Joe L. Allbritton". January 15, 2013. Washington National Cathedral. Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  6. ^ Walters, Simon (April 10, 2011). "The Texan billionaire who will help make up Charles' side of the Abbey at the Royal Wedding". The Daily Mail. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  7. ^ Hershey Jr., Robert D. (December 12, 2012). "Joe Allbritton, TV and Banking Titan, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 January 2013.

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