FOXBORO — Patriots head coach Bill Belichick  spent the first two minutes of his press conference Wednesday giving a heartfelt tribute to longtime equipment manager Don Brocher, the longest-tenured employee of the team. Brocher passed away due to complications from a battle with leukemia early Tuesday morning.
Brocher, who just turned 60 in November, leaves behind his wife, Laurie.
“I’d just say that as a football team, an organization, we’re saddened by the loss of Donnie this weekend,” Belichick said. “In a game where, we all see what kind of changes were made on Monday throughout the league, for somebody to be here 40 years, doing the job that he did for so many owners, coaches, general managers, you name it, players, was really a tribute to his dedication, consistency, dependability, quality of the work that he did.”
Brocher began his Patriots career in 1972 and became a institution inside the locker room, filling many different needs of player and coaches.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to [Brocher’s wife] Laurie and his family, and he’s a guy that six months ago when [former Patriots assistant equipment manager] John Hillebrand went to Jacksonville, sat in my office and we talked about how — he talked about how good he was feeling, how much he was looking forward to a few more years on the job, and then doing some other things he was looking forward to. And then six months later, where we are today,” Belichick said.
Belichick seemed most emotional when talking about the last time the team saw him, during the Sunday night game with the 49ers , as he spent time on the sidelines.
“Don was here for the San Francisco game,” Belichick said. “I don’t think anybody really had a sense of the physical and mental toughness 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 Donnie, he was never one to complain, never one to talk about how he was doing, he was there to help the rest of us, and we’ll miss him.”
The Patriots released the following obituary on Wednesday:
Donald ‘Donnie’ S. Brocher, 60, a Boston native and a resident of Norton, Mass., lost his battle to Leukemia and died peacefully at Massachusetts General Hospital on New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2013. Laurie, his beloved wife and best friend for 23 years, was at his bedside along with family and friends when he died.
Born the son of Edwin and Betty Brocher on November 23, 1952 in Boston, Mass., Don was raised in Marblehead, Mass along with his sister Debbie and brothers David, Danny and Bobby. His first love was hockey and his childhood sports idol was the Boston Bruins ‘ Bobby Orr . He attended Beverly High School where, as a senior, he served as the equipment manager for the high school’s hockey team, and graduated in 1970.
In the early 1970s, he worked for the equipment staff of the Milwaukee Brewers  during spring training while the team trained in Arizona each year.
He 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. He was the longest tenured Patriots employee in the history of the franchise.
In August, when the Patriots traveled to Tampa 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. He 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.
He is survived by his loving wife, Laurie, his mother, Betty, his sister, Debbie, and his three brothers, David, Danny and Bobby, along with many nephews, nieces and loved ones.
A memorial service to celebrate the life and memories of Don Brocher will be held in the East Putnam Club at Gillette Stadium  on Saturday, January 5. Doors will open at 10:30 a.m. with an informal service and reflections begining at 11:00 a.m. Guests will be invited to stay and share stories during a reception to follow. Family, friends and all who knew Don are encouraged to attend. The family is encouraging casual attire.
Cremation services will be handled by Roberts & Sons Funeral Home in Foxborough, Mass.
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.’
Make checks out to: New England Patriots Charitable Foundation
1 Patriot Place
Foxborough, MA 02035
If you have questions, please email CharitableEvents@patriots.com.
We 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.