South Central Patriarch Engelbrecht Unexpectedly Dies


For 45 years, he was considered “the epitome of a local entrepreneur and businessman.” It began at age 23, after his father unexpectedly passed away.

Sadly, history has repeated itself. John D. Engelbrecht has died of a massive heart attack. News of his passing was made known via LinkedIn by his son, JP Engelbrecht.

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The Engelbrecht family has been tied to Evansville, Ind.-based South Central Inc., formerly South Central Communications, since 1946. John served as Chairman, retiring in 2008 as Chief Executive, passing the torch to JP, today the CEO.

On LinkedIn, the younger Engelbrecht said, “I will miss him as my business partner but mostly as my Dad.”

John D. Engelbrecht was 68. On April 18, he was rushed to Deaconess Midtown Hospital in Evansville after suffering a massive heart attack. He died that day.

News of his passing slowly made its way across social media, with many industry notables offering their condolences, including Patrick Communications media broker Greg Guy and media consultant Harry Lyles, who shared how JP’s grandfather and father played a role in his life.

Under John D. Engelbrecht, South Central expanded from a small Evansville company into a regional broadcast power, with television stations in its hometown as well as in Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn. Its legacy in TV can be found at what is now Gray Television’s WVLT-8 in Knoxville.

In those three markets, South Central also owned radio stations, including WCJK-FM & WJXA-FM in Nashville; five FMs in Knoxville; and five FMs and WEOA-AM 1400 in Evansville. Hometown Top 40 WSTO-FM 96.1 was widely recognized for its programming and talent.

In May 2014, South Central agreed to sell nine of its FMs to Midwest Communications in a deal sources told RBR+TVBR was worth roughly seven-times cash flow — $63 million.

Kalil & Co. was the exclusive broker on that deal.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a private family service was held, with a private burial.

John D. Engelbrecht is survived by his wife, Stephanie (Mosbacher) Engelbrecht; son, JP (Allison) Engelbrecht; daughters, Elizabeth (Jeff) Cox and Nora (Engelbrecht) Ferguson; grandchildren, Ellie, Will, and Anna Engelbrecht, Myles Frazier, Sullivan, Riley, Caroline, Marilyn, and Robert Cox, and Theodore, John, and Henry Ferguson.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Sciences, 411 SE Riverside Drive, Evansville, IN 47713.

Condolences may be made online at