Hall of Fame football coach Tom Brown, who coached at Maiden High School for 35 seasons, Bunker Hill High School for four seasons and East Burke High School for three seasons, died Thursday. He was 77.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Brown came to Hickory in 1961 to attend Lenoir-Rhyne College (now Lenoir-Rhyne University) and play both football and baseball for the Bears. An all-conference performer in both sports, he graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1965 and became the head football coach at Maiden the following year.
Brown coached the Blue Devils from 1966-78 and again from 1986-2007, compiling 330 victories to set the state record for wins by a football coach at a single school. He also coached at Bunker Hill from 1982-85 and East Burke from 2014-16, finishing with a career record of 365-140-7 to go with a Western North Carolina High School Activities Association championship in 1971 and a North Carolina High School Athletic Association state title in 1978, both with Maiden.
Brown is a member of the Lenoir-Rhyne Sports Hall of Fame, the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Athletic Director’s Association Hall of Fame and the NCHSAA Hall of Fame. He was also named one of the NCHSAA’s top 100 coaches of all-time in 2013.
The Carolina Panthers’ 2005 N.C. high school state coach of the year and the state’s head coach in the Shrine Bowl in 2000, Brown had dealt with health problems in recent months. The Maiden High School football team’s Twitter confirmed his passing on Thursday morning.
“With heavy hearts, the school, football program, former players, and the community; we have lost a true legend, person, and mentor in Coach Tom Brown,” the post reads. “Our heartfelt condolences go out Jill, Brian, Von and the family during these times. We pray for peace and he will be missed.”
The football stadium at the old Maiden High was named Thomas E. Brown Stadium from 2000-05, and the new school — which opened in 2006 — decided to adopt that name in 2017. The Blue Devils kick off the 2020-21 season with a trip to Bandys tonight at 7 p.m.
Note: Look for more on Brown in an upcoming edition of the Hickory Daily Record.