Equipment manager Don Brocher, the Patriots' longest-tenured employee, died on Tuesday of complications from leukemia, the team announced.
Brocher, 60, was in his 41st season with the team. He began as a ballboy in 1972 and became an equipment assistant that season, then became equipment manager in 1994. He was born in Boston and lived in Norton with his wife, Laurie.
Brocher had worked at 834 consecutive Patriots games over a 40-year span before he missed a preseason game at Tampa Bay in August.
“The Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization awoke with very heavy hearts this morning,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a team press release. “That is when most of us learned of Don’s passing. He had fought this deadly disease so valiantly all season long. We were all optimistic that he would defeat it and fully recover. He was back on our sidelines just two weeks ago for our game against the 49ers and I can’t remember ever seeing him happier. I am glad I had that opportunity to thank him once again for his loyalty and countless contributions to the team. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Laurie, and all who knew Don and are mourning his loss today.”