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Sidney Frank, 86; was liquor baron

MONTVILLE, Conn. -- Sidney Frank, who grew up on a farm in rural Connecticut and rose to wealth and prominence as the creator, importer, and marketer of Grey Goose vodka died Jan. 10 in San Diego. He was 86.

Mr. Frank was a philanthropist, donating $12 million to Norwich Free Academy, his alma mater, in 2004. He also announced a $20 million donation and another $100 million scholarship endowment to Brown University, which he attended for one year before running out of tuition money.

''Everything I did in life, I thought big," Mr. Frank said in 2004.

Mr. Frank first tasted success in the liquor industry by marketing the German licorice-flavored liquor Jagermeister in the United States. He promoted the brand by paying models to go to bars and persuade college-age students to buy the drink, often by offering free shots administered with a spray gun.

''He's almost like the Warren Buffett of the spirits industry," Michael Harrelson, editor of the trade publication Nightclub and Bar, said in 2004. ''His choices in the spirits he chose to buy into are very carefully weighed and considered."

Mr. Frank began promoting Grey Goose in 1997, planting bottles in Hollywood limousines and marketing it as the vodka of the elite. In 2004, Mr. Frank sold Grey Goose Vodka to Bacardi & Co. Ltd. for $2 billion.

''Through hard work and determination, Mr. Frank led a full life that embodied the American dream," Ruth J. Simmons, Brown University president, wrote in an e-mail to students and staff.

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