Steve Brown, 58, Clinton

Coach Steve Brown

On the evening of Tuesday, July 18, 2023, Steve Brown, a great friend to many, slipped quietly and peacefully into his eternity after a short illness. From the moment that he was diagnosed, his wife and family were there to tend to his every need. In his last week, Steve’s loved ones kept a round-the-clock vigil at his bedside; praying; holding his hands; reminiscing with life stories; and never leaving his side.

Steve was born on February 5, 1965, and raised in the Frost Bottom community of Oliver Springs. He was the youngest of eight children and was commonly and affectionately known as “da baby” and “baby brother” throughout his life – even in his adult years. The Brown kids were spread out over approximately 20 years, so growing up, his sisters, Alma and Wilma, tried to spoil him rotten. Because of the age difference, Steve grew up with many of his nieces and nephews. Steve was always outside rounding everyone up to play some sort of ball game. They all hoped they would end up on his team because they knew no matter what sport it was, he played to win. His competitiveness and grit were instilled in him at an early age by his big brother Jim (Big Jim). Most would say, losing wasn’t in his vocabulary. This trait stayed with him throughout life. Growing up, there was never a dull moment around Steve, and it was never known what he would do next. He even made a golf course out of 2-liter Coke bottle bottoms to teach his nieces and nephews how to play. Steve learned to be tough growing up with 4 older brothers. He survived being trampled by a pony and ran over by a motorcycle — both at the hands of his brother Larry. Steve was known as the “fun uncle” that was adored and revered by all his nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews.

Steve attended Oliver Springs schools and even ventured over to Clinton’s rival (Anderson County) for a brief period, but he would soon find out his blood ran orange and black. When love calls, the heart can change, and this is where he met the love of his life, the former Lisa Rena’ Smith. They met while working at the local McDonald’s, and Lisa was one of his managers. Steve learned the importance of respect and keeping the boss happy. (This later translated into “happy wife, happy life.”) Steve and Lisa were married for 37 years and raised their three children in Clinton. The word “dad” was by far his favorite title, and he never took it lightly; however, his grandbabies would tell you that being called “Grandpapa” was the best. Steve was a hands-on dad, always hustlin’ his work buddies at a game of pick-up ball with his daughter, Alicia. He always convinced them to play because “he was only bringing his little girl and he knew they didn’t really have a chance to win.” Needless to say, Steve always left with a big smile on his face saying, “Sorry boys, she’s a ringer.”

Because of Steve’s passion for sports, it was only natural that he passed that trait to his children and grandchildren. He was their biggest fan as well as their biggest critic. He could be tough, but he also had a very soft (and big) heart. Of all the things Steve accomplished in life, he would always say that his children were his greatest accomplishment and his pride and joy. Another thing he passed along was the love for his favorite NFL team, formerly the “Oakland” Raiders.

The biggest contribution one can make to their community is their time. Steve loved sports (all sports) and Steve also loved kids, so it was only natural that he became “Coach Steve.” He was known for always wearing a visor, his loud raspy voice, tough love, and he loved every child he coached, whether it was his own or not. Everyone seemed to love Steve, including most referees and umpires, even when they didn’t always see eye-to-eye. Steve touched the lives of many families throughout his coaching years (Lil’ Rascals, East Tennessee Pearls, Clinton High School Softball, Unleased, Wolfpack, Coalfield, and countless rec teams) and each player, coach, and parent left an impact on him as well. Steve often affectionately referred to his players as his “little knot-heads.” Steve positively encouraged and motivated his teams with statements like “always believe;” “work hard and you will succeed;” and “never quit.” He had an ability to push players to their full potential while at the same time making competition fun.

Steve was employed for almost 35 years at Techmer PM serving as a Plant Supervisor. His coworkers commonly knew him as their “fearless leader” and he had the reputation for jumping in to help when needed. A few years ago when President Obama visited East Tennessee and toured Techmer PM, Steve was bestowed the honor to help serve as one of his escorts and explained Plant operations. If you ever tried to “one up” Steve, he would reply, “Well, have you ever met the President?!”

Steve was commonly referred to as a jokester and the family comedian. While Steve fought his health battles and his health declined over the past few months, he continued to be an encouragement to others with his sense of humor as there was never self-pity. During his month-long stint in the hospital, in Steve Brown competitive style, he joked with all the nurses about how he was going to win “patient of the week.” He would tell everyone that his wife, Nurse Lisa, “was the best nurse he’d ever had.” He reminded his family often, “I have lived a great life,” and repeatedly told them “it’ll be okay.” Even with a dim prognosis, Steve fought his illness bravely and courageously while also assuring us that he was ready. Some additional strong advice he gave us was, “the past is the past,” and “don’t have hate in your heart.” What a better world we would have if we all lived by Steve’s advice!

Steve sealed his acceptance into heaven as a believer in Jesus Christ and a professed Christian. He was a long-time member of Calvary Baptist Church in Oak Ridge. Even as Steve exited this world, his competitive spirit was exhibited as he beat older family members to Heaven. No doubt, the welcoming committee at the Pearly Gates included family members: son, Anthony; his parents, Clifton and Ruby Brown; his brothers, Terry, Wayne, and Doug; nephew, Jason Griffith; and father-in-law, John Smith.

Steve leaves behind to cherish his memory: his wife and soulmate, Lisa; his daughters, Alicia Brown Phillips and Gracie Brown; three grandchildren whom he adored, Harper Phillips, Henley Phillips and Anthony Phillips; brothers, Jim (Connie) of Soddy Daisy and Larry (Lisa) of Oliver Springs; sisters Alma Lively (Billy) and Wilma Griffith (Bobby Kilgore), both of Oliver Springs; mother and father-in-law, Julie and Lee Barth, Athens; brother-in-law, Greg Smith (Kym) of Andersonville; sister-in-law, Valerie Smith of Andersonville; sister-in-law, Rhonda Brown of Clinton; special extended family, Bruce and Zobie Rockers of Farragut; his Techmer PM family; many extended family members including nieces, nephews, and cousins; and many very special friends. Steve was also adored and will be missed by his 4-legged family members, Odie and Wolfie.

The life of Steve Brown, “the man, the myth, the legend, the coach,” will be celebrated on Monday, July 24th, at Holley-Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm with the service beginning at 8:00 pm. A graveside service will be held at 11:00 am on Tuesday, July 25th, at Anderson Memorial Gardens in Clinton. Services will be conducted by Dr. Steve McDonald, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.

Serving as pallbearers will be Jimmy Brown, Casey Daugherty, Mark Raines, Kirk Sliger, Brandon Smith, Brian Walker, Jason Webber, and Shane Woods. Our family invites all of our family and friends to join us as we honor and celebrate a life well lived.

Memorial contributions can be made to Clinton High School basketball/softball programs and mailed to 425 Dragon Drive, Clinton TN 37716.

There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains. -Unknown

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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