You may know him as a teacher, photographer, football coach, school bus driver or just as a kind spirit.
But many know him simply as “Coach Frank.”
Frank Brown has served in the community for years in different capacities.
Last year, he became one of the several bus drivers in the Sunflower County Consolidated School District who delivered lunches to students during the pandemic. Brown began delivering lunches in March 2020, and still delivers them to students who remain virtual.
Brown began driving a bus in 1971, and continues a half century later, even after retiring in 2003.
He is a man of many talents, including photography.
Brown was recently honored at Alcorn State University in commemoration of his 50th anniversary, recognized as the campus photographer.
A help wanted flyer pinned to a bulletin board would be the beginning of Brown’s photography career at Alcorn, although his interest in the field began in the seventh grade.
“I’ve always been interested in taking pictures,” said Brown. “Before I went to Alcorn, I was taking pictures...candid shots around here. I started shooting pictures before color came out. I was shooting black and white and I bought a Polaroid camera. I would shoot pictures of my friends and teachers.”
When Brown applied, he was given a camera he had never used before that included shutter speed and f-stop features. Determined to get the job, he began to do his research.
“I went to the library, and immediately studied right quick... even how to open the camera up because that was new,” said Brown.
His studying paid off because the school was impressed with his photography skills.
“And by chance, I did the right thing, the way I shoot the pictures, they came out perfect,” said Brown. “It was just that the Lord was with me making those pictures right.”
Brown became well-known on campus, and through photos, he captured the lives of the students and their campus lifestyle.
“My first assignment was to attend their meetings, not their shows but when they practiced, I would shoot,” said Brown. “I would have many informal shots throughout the campus.”
While in college, Brown also served in public relations for the Student Government Association. He helped to bring in 13 shows in 1969, including talent like Johnnie Taylor and Duke Ellington.
After graduating from Alcorn State University, he went to Mississippi Delta Community College to learn how to develop film and other techniques of photography. He became a freelance photographer where he would take pictures of Morgan Freeman, Laura Bush and many of the late B.B. King.
Brown learned a lot being around the iconic blues singer.
“It’s show business, but no business,” is a quip he remembered him often saying.
Brown also taught Occupational Orientation, a course on how to succeed in the workplace. He did that from 1971 to 1981.
During that time, he won a record-breaking title as Gentry’s head football coach.
Brown coached the 1976 Gentry football team that went 10-0, a record that still hasn’t been broken.
Brown remembers the obstacles that came along with the championship game vividly.
“My two star players were thrown out of the game within two minutes of the game and that scrambled my strategy,” said Brown. “We had already beat them in the playoffs. They won their division, and we won ours. We had beaten them 28-6. The six was from an interception, that was the only interception we threw that year.”
Brown used the words of naysayers as fuel for the journey to the championship. “The reason I took the head coach job at Gentry is...they say, ‘Well Gentry ain’t never won a championship,’” said Brown. “Well, that was an ambition for me. I said, ‘Oh yes, that was a challenge.’ I’m very optimistic. That’s why I stayed. I was never pessimistic.”
Brown remained in a coaching position for years to come. He would later coach Micheal Spurlock and Ellis Wyms while head coach at then Pennington Junior High School.
“He (Spurlock) actually was a baseball star and he didn’t really care about football but I encouraged him, put him in all new equipment just to get him to please come out there,” said Brown of Spurlock. “He came on out, and he started liking it. The rest was history.”
Spurlock and Wyms would go on to play in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I was trying to make sure I keep these young people engaged,” said Brown, when he speaks of his dedication to coaching.
Whether he was feeding a camera film, feeding football players lessons on life or now feeding the children of Sunflower County by delivering lunches, Brown’s appetite for being a leader has never waned.