Ron Brown, No. 3 all-time winningest boys basketball coach in Washington state history, dies at 90

Brown retired from bench in 2017 with a pair of WIAA championships and 722 victories to his name
Legendary Centralia High School basketball coach Ron Brown retired in 2017 with two WIAA titles and 722 wins.
Legendary Centralia High School basketball coach Ron Brown retired in 2017 with two WIAA titles and 722 wins. / Photo courtesy of Centralia School District

It's almost impossible to do, but in the 56 seasons Ron Brown coached the boys basketball team at Centralia High School ... nobody said a bad word about the legend.

Brown was just too fair. He was just too kind. He was just too classy.

"It is amazing how he was able to touch so many people," said Tim Brown, Ron's son and former coach at North Thurston High School. "He was born and bred from a different cloth. You don't see people like him anymore.:

And he was also one of the most successful coaches in Washington state history - No. 3 all-time with 722 victories.

Brown, who retired in 2017 after more than five decades at one school, died Friday morning in Centralia after complications from congestive heart failure. He was 90.

"He was a special human being," said Larry Mollerstuen, who spent 31 seasons as Brown's assistant coach, and even played for him as a teenager. "He treated everyone with respect, and was the most non-judgmental person you'd ever meet."

A WIBCA hall of famer, Brown twice won WIAA championships with the Tigers - in 1979 with an unheralded group, led by Bob Peters and Bob Wollan, and in 1981 with a superstar-to-be in Detlef Scrempf, who went on to star with the Washington Huskies and in the NBA, including a stint with the Seattle Supersonics.

But far more remarkable was Brown's love and devotion to one community in Centralia.

"He was a mentor," Mollerstuen said. "And the youth program he built there and all the Saturday games where his high school players were coaches and refs was special."

Brown turned 90 on May 10, and he recently went into home hospice. He is survived by his wife, Janet; and four children, Alisa, David, Tim and Julie, who all live locally.

Editor's note: Family is planning for Brown's "Celebration of Life" to be held July 27 at Centralia High School. Start time is 1 p.m.

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Todd Miles