For 41 years, Don Brocher traveled to Foxborough ready for work and to help others.
It was that selfless attitude and the love for his job with the New England Patriots that left a lasting impression on many within the organization, including Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
“He was never one to complain, never one to talk about how he was doing, he was just there to help the rest of us,” Belichick said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We’ll miss him.”
Brocher lost his battle to Leukemia early Tuesday morning, passing away peacefully at Massachusetts General Hospital with his loving wife Laurie, family and friends by his side. He was 60 years old.
In a business that sees massive turnover year-after-year, Brocher managed to stay with one organization for over four decades and spent the last 19 seasons as the Patriots equipment manager. He was the longest tenured employee in the Patriots organization – a true reflection of his character and work ethic.
“In a game where – we all saw what changes were made on Monday throughout the league – for somebody to be here for 40 years, doing the job that he did for so many owners, coaches, general managers, you name it, players, is really a tribute to his dedication, consistency, dependability and the quality of the work that he did,” Belichick said.
Brocher, a Boston native and longtime resident of Norton, began working for the Patriots as a ball boy on George Luongo’s equipment staff in 1972 and was hired full-time as an assistant that season. He served as the team’s assistant equipment manager until February of 1994 when he was promoted to equipment manager shortly after Robert Kraft purchased the team. He was entering his 19th season as equipment manager and his 41st season overall with the Patriots when he was diagnosed with Leukemia in June of 2012.
In August, when the Patriots traveled to Tampa Bay for their preseason game against the Buccaneers, Brocher stayed behind. It was the first Patriots game he had missed in 40 years, snapping a streak of 834 consecutive Patriots games that he had worked, including 37 of the franchise’s 39 postseason games.
Brocher did return to the sidelines on Dec. 16 for the Patriots game against the San Francisco 49ers … just 10 days before his death.
“He’s a guy that six months ago when [former Assistant Equipment Manager] John Hillebrand went to Jacksonville, [Brocher] sat in my office and he talked about how good he was feeling, how much he was looking forward to a few more years on the job and doing some other things that he was looking forward to,” Belichick said. “Six months later we are where we are today. Don was here for the San Francisco game. I don’t think anybody really had a sense of the physical and mental toughness that he displayed that night just by being here and doing his job and being here for us in that type of situation. But that was kind of Donny.”
Brocher was proud to be a member of each of the franchise’s seven Super Bowl teams and celebrated each of the Patriots’ three Super Bowl championships. During his Patriots career, he handled the equipment needs for thousands of players during the tenures of 11 of the franchise’s 14 head coaches.
“We’re saddened by the loss of [Brocher],” Belichick said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Laurie and his family.”
A memorial service to celebrate the life and memories of Brocher will be held in the East Putnam Club at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 5. Doors will open at 10:30 a.m. with an informal service and reflections beginning at 11 a.m. Guests will be invited to stay and share stories during a reception to follow. Family, friends and all who knew Brocher are encouraged to attend. The family is encouraging casual attire.
Cremation services will be handled by Roberts & Sons Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.
Donors can insert a message to accompany their donation such as “In memory of Don Brocher.” Click here for more details.
Checks are to be made out to:
New England Patriots Charitable Foundation
1 Patriot Place
Foxborough, MA 02035
If you have questions, e-mail CharitableEvents@patriots.com.
The Patriots encourage anyone who would like to post a message in Don Brocher’s memory to do so on the Patriots website at www.patriots.com. All messages will be collected and shared with his wife, Laurie. For a direct link to post a comment click here.