WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Williamsport Area High School graduate and one of the biggest football names to come out of central Pennsylvania, Gary Brown, recently passed after a battle with cancer.
Athletic staff and friends are recalling their experiences with the athlete and coach. And how much of his legacy, involved giving back to the community.
“I can’t believe that he’s done because I can still see that smile,” said Charlie Ackerman, friend of Gary Brown.
At 52-years-old, Gary Brown passed away after years of battling cancer. Brown is remembered as a local legend throughout Williamsport, where he ran track and played football at the high school in the 80s.
“He had the career rushing record at Williamsport Area High School with over 4,100 yards, he had 74 career touchdowns and that was probably with only playing the first half of most games,” stated Sean McCann, Athletic Director, Williamsport Area School District.
After spending time playing and coaching in the NFL, Brown made it back to his old stomping grounds.
“Donating things to the football team, uniforms, warm-ups for the kids. He just was an outstanding individual that everybody just loved and respected that way,” said McCann.
Charlie Ackerman is a family friend who grew up with Brown’s father. He remembers Brown as a just a boy and enjoyed watching his career progress.
“I’ve seen him grow. I helped coach him you know? And I used to tell him ‘kids like you make me as an offensive/defensive line coach look pretty darn smart!’,” Ackerman explained.
Ackerman was sad to hear about Brown’s passing and says he always stayed kind and down to earth.
“After coaching with him we’d win a big game and I’d put my arm around his neck you know and he’d get a big kick out of that. You know we’d bang heads. Just a terrific person,” stated Ackerman.
Brown became a successful coach after his playing career with stints at Lycoming College and Susquehanna University, before moving onto the NFL.
Last fall he was the running backs coach at Wisconsin.