Larry Brown was Pleasanton High School’s principal from 1977 to 1994. He passed away suddenly at the age of 64 in September of 2003.
A group of students from those years has banded together to put on a dance and raffle to benefit the Larry Brown Memorial Scholarship and the PISD Education Foundation Teachers’ Grant fund. The tagline of the event, “Honoring the legend. A great man, father, husband, mentor.”
The raffle tickets are being sold throughout the town and right here at the Pleasanton Express. Additionally, they are being sold at the next two Pleasanton mighty Eagles football games September 21 and September 28 starting at 6:30 p.m. The grand prize, a 2008 Ford F150 King Ranch pickup truck, will be parked at the ticket table right on the football grounds. Tickets are $10 each. The winner will be announced at the FREE concert on Friday, Sept. 28 following the football homecoming game at the Atascosa County Showbarn arena. PHS alumni John Mayse, JC Martinez, Richard Garcia, Barry Milam and Randy Reed and their band 86’d will perform.
PHS Alumni Jon Brauchle and Bobby Kinsel and their band, “What about Bob?” will play. Brauchle said, “Bobby and I were Class of 1984. Mr. Brown had a patented look which let you know that he would soon be informing you whether he approved of whatever he was watching you do. Whatever his verdict was, you always knew he deeply cared for his charges, and his heart was always in the right place.” While the dance is for everyone, from Pleasanton High School or not, Kinsel and Brauchle have been busy practicing on a special treat for the celebrants of the PHS Homecoming 2018. They have been learning every class song of those who graduated in years ending in ‘8 from 1968 “Born Free” to 1978 “Stairway to Heaven” and some before, after and in between.
Two of the organizers are 1988 graduates John Mayse and Mark Carroll. Carroll had suggested underwriting the band 86’d to play for their 1988 class reunion. But later, Carroll saw that Larry Brown’s daughter, Stephanie Brown, had mentioned on Facebook that there was no Larry Brown scholarship. “I found it sad and incomprehensible that a man who touched and shaped so many lives did not have a scholarship in his name,” said Carroll. “Larry Brown had a kind heart and style of discipline led by love.’
There have been a lot of questions about “must be present to win.” The thought behind that was simple said Carroll and Mayse, “Our goal was to have as many people as possible gather together to share their stories and love of a man who gave so much to us all for 17 years.” If you cannot be present, the duo hopes you give in the spirit of “pay it forward” giving back to a man that gave so much to so many.
Carroll said that not many people knew it, but Brown painted houses during the summer. He said he worked for him one summer and that time endeared him even more to his former principal.
“God put it on my heart that THIS was a good cause – one worthy of the financial and time commitment it deserved,” said Carroll. “Naturally John said it would be ‘bad ***!”
He said that the two talked of ticket sales to raise money for the scholarship and selling beer, but that was outside of what the two could do. Mayse who owns a car dealership said ‘I’ll raffle off a truck since you’re underwriting this event flying everyone in! Genius!”
“John and I have been close friends since Junior High and remained close in the different seasons of our lives,” said Carroll. “Even to this day when I make trips in from Houston on a recurring basis, we take time to see each other. Our partnership in crime over the years hasn’t been as full of good deeds as this endeavor but whatever the situation- we’re in it together – always have been, always will be.”
When speaking with the Brown family women, Kay Brown, Larry Brown’s widow, and his daughters Leslie Brown and Stephanie Brown, you could see that they are all still in awe and deeply in love with the man who was a giant in their life.
“It is important to remember Larry Wayne Brown, the principal and caring human being because of his enduring depth of love for “his kids” as he called all PHS students from 1977-1994,” said Kay. “He felt every student was reachable, you couldn’t give up on any one of them.” Kay said that his way of thinking was to persevere until you found the goodness in each, treat everyone special and they would in turn respond with their respect.
She said that theory carried over into dealing with his own children at home as well as the many adults he worked with within the school system. “Larry really was one-ina million when it came to dealing with people.”
Stephanie Brown said she loves to be asked about her dad. “So you ask me how it makes me feel when all of these people speak so well of my father, well, I love it,” she said. Stephanie said that she loves to hear each and every story of how he impacted somebody’s life because it helps her to understand that life is not about us, we were created for a purpose. “Mr. Brown fulfilled his purpose very well,” she said.
“I was running errands yesterday, and while I was in a few businesses, I asked if they wanted to purchase raffle tickets,” said Stephanie. “Well, a quick ‘in and out’ trip took much longer as the people inside all wanted to share their favorite Larry Brown stories. I sat there and listened and smiled.”
One of his goals and purpose in life was to travel to all 50 states and visit all the courthouses in Texas. The family was on their way to that goal when Brown passed. But before that, the family stopped at every state line to take family photos. Leslie said that they became so tired of this tradition that they made the foreign exchange student traveling with them get out and pose for pictures.
Kay said that they went to every activity. Every football game they would follow the buses. If there was a school event, they were there.
Brown’s favorite subject was history. He took the family to visit all the civil war battlefields. “I was a French major,” said Stephanie. “I tried to get him to Normandy because that is a little spot in France that belongs to America,” said Stephanie. “But he still refused saying that I am never going to leave America.”
Leslie fondly remembers her father. “My dad’s legacy is such a part of my life and all of our family extending out into the community,” said Leslie. “My memories of his legacy beginning in early childhood, of this, to me ‘giant’ of a man greeting, helping and encouraging. He walked the talk. I am so grateful how his impact lives on.”
John Mayse said he was best friends with Larry and Kay’s son Scott Brown and was at their house every day.
“They treated me like a son – good and bad,” said Mayse. “Scott and I’d be lying in front of the TV when he got home, and he’d come in and say ‘How’d y’alls day go?’ We’d talk for about 30 minutes, and then he would go out and smoke his pipe.” John said he remembered getting in trouble at school and thinking he would be off the hook because of his “son” status.
Mayse said he walked into the office and Mr. Brown said that he would typically give a student a paddle for this type of trouble, but due to our relationship I am not going to do that today. Mayse thought he was home free until the door opened and Mr. Ridgeway walked in with his paddle. Mayse said that Mr. Brown said “He’ll have to do it.”
Later that evening Mr. Brown got home and just like normal said: “How’d y’alls day go?”