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Golf bench honors Jim Browns memory
The Family and Friends of Jim Brown the former educator and coach that passed away in 2011 show off the bench dedicated in his honor that overlooks the first hole at the Manteca Park Golf Course. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

He had teed off from there hundreds of times before.

And now, thanks to his family and friends, Jim Brown’s memory will be honored as people partake in one of his favorite pastimes – starting their round of 18 holes at the Manteca Park Golf Course.

On Tuesday morning nearly two-dozen people gathered near the first tee box at Manteca’s municipal course to pay tribute to a man who touched thousands of lives during his time as an educator and coach. He led the football program at East Union High School prior to retirement.

When he passed away in April of 2011, the community came out in droves to pay respects to a man who had spent more than three decades teaching Manteca’s youth and leaving a legacy that is still being passed down to this day.

Appropriately, before any East Union football player steps onto the field, they walk into the Jim C. Brown Fitness Center first. It is a worthy introduction to the school’s storied history and one of the men that helped add an air of credibility to its sports programs.

While the mood was somber, Brown’s daughter, Lisa Goodwin, said her father would have been proud to have a bench erected in his honor overlooking the first hole of a course that he played many, many times before.

“He loved everything about this community. He had his first teaching job here, and he was in love with it ever since – that’s when he got involved and things just kind of went from there,” Goodwin said. “He loved the small town feel. He wanted to give back to that kind of a community, and he did so with the parks and recreation programs that his golf tournament sponsored.

“It gave something back to the kids that didn’t quite have as much as others.”

On Friday, July 19, golfers will pour onto the course of The Jim Brown Memorial Swing for Youth Golf Tournament – now in its 11th year. Brown was a member of the Friends of the Manteca Parks and Recreation Foundation for three years prior to his death. On his 2008 application he wrote “I would like to see that all the boys and girls who live in Manteca have the opportunity to participate in recreation programs.”

The shotgun start for the tournament – where a foursome is $320 and singles are $85 – is at 7:30 a.m.

“He loved this course, and the camaraderie of coming out here and playing it with his buddies, even if he had a love/hate relationship with golf,” Goodwin said. “That’s why all of the clubs in his bag were bent. But the people he met out here and played with out here were family.

“He’d love this.”