Sick with leukemia, Ed Brown told his son he didn't need anyone to make a commotion with posthumous tributes.
The request, though, was impossible to keep.
A generation of Tucsonans - students from Pueblo and then Cholla high schools, where Brown taught and coached football and track - are living, breathing testaments of Brown's influence.
Tucson Unified School District's first black coach - hired by Cholla when it opened in 1969 - died Wednesday, at 80, of complications from the disease.
He is survived by his wife, Geta LeSeur-Brown; three children and one stepdaughter; four grandchildren; and thousands of former students and players.
"Boy, did he groom a lot of young men, and women, to be professionals and great citizens," said Bernie Trejo, a Tucson optometrist who played for Brown at Cholla from 1970-72. "He's got engineers. He's got doctors. He's got lawyers. He's got everything."
Brown would sometimes pick Trejo and his classmates up in Menlo Park, driving them to school himself. When Trejo considered quitting college, the image of a disappointed Brown was enough to keep him motivated.
"It was always about teaching, educating, being part of a kid's life," said his son, Ed Brown Jr.
He spent Thursday reading Facebook messages about his father from diverse faces.
"Black, brown, yellow, white," he said. "All the colors of the rainbow."
It was a fitting tribute for one of Tucson's racial pioneers.
Brown was born in Mississippi and grew up in a segregated neighborhood in Colorado Springs, Colo., before joining the Marines and fighting in Korea.
When he arrived at the University of Arizona in 1954, he was one of two black football players on the team. In 1956, he and Clarence Anderson, the UA's other black player, traveled to an El Paso game in a separate car to avoid Jim Crow furor.
With the exception of one ejection, Brown never missed a snap during his UA football career, from 1954-57. He played both offense and defense - guard and linebacker - as the Wildcats' last two-way star.
Brown held UA records in the shot put and discus, and later coached high school track.
After being named the UA's outstanding senior athlete in 1957 - an academic honor, as well as athletic - he turned down a chance to play for the Cleveland Browns, staying home with his wife and two kids.
He took a teaching and assistant coaching job at Pueblo in 1958, and finished a master's degree at the university.
Before the 1969 season, Brown was named the football coach at the new Cholla High School.
"My dad put pressure on himself, just to be the best he could be," said Ed Brown Jr. "The fact he did happen to be the first black head coach was more of how other people looked at race and color."
His first job was bringing together rivals from Tucson and Pueblo high schools, which were folded into the new west-side school.
"He was a great mentor," said Randy Hammonds, a member of Cholla's first graduating class and now a Tucson pastor. "He took on a tough situation, trying to blend the two high schools together."
Rudy Castro, who coached Cholla's baseball team as a Brown contemporary, called him tough, larger-than-life and a wonderful teacher.
"He was the first in line when there was a problem," he said. "Everybody loved him."
Brown went 91-98-2 before resigning his football post in 1988. The Cholla football stadium is named in his honor.
Brown was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UA Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
In retirement, Brown helped rally support for Cholla's alumni foundation and enjoyed working in his west-side garden. Calls to his wife were not immediately returned.
"He stayed in contact with players," his son said. "He loved to share his experiences - and help people think."
Contact Patrick Finley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4145.