Abe Brown was a coach, a teacher and a minister. He left a legacy of good work centered in his faith and his belief that everyone deserves a second chance.
He founded Abe Brown Ministries in 1976. And though he died in 2010 at age 83, his ministry continues its outreach to prisoners and their families.
“He was the community’s pastor,” said Brown’s son-in-law, Robert Blount, who now serves as president of Abe Brown Ministries.
On Tuesday about 125 people including family, friends and elected officials gathered to rededicate the U.S. post office at 2810 E. Hillsborough Ave. in Brown’s name. “Reverend Abe Brown” now is on the station’s front door and a plaque will hang inside.
There are plans to place a bust of Brown beneath the station’s flag pole. A fundraising campaign is underway to collect about $12,000 to pay for it.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson sponsored the Congressional bill to honor Brown.
A few years ago area residents rallied to prevent closure of the post office, formerly called the Produce Station post office. It was on a list of about 3,700 post offices slated to be closed as part of cost-cutting measures by the federal agency.
The post office was built in 1997 and employs almost 50 people.
“It’s more than just a building,” said Ernie Onody, Tampa’s postal officer in charge. “It’s part of the community and now with his (Abe Brown’s) name affixed it’s even more a part of the community.”
Castor met Brown when she was a teenager at Chamberlain High School and Brown was the school’s dean of students.
“He was a tough cookie,” she said. “He was the embodiment of moral authority.”
Brown worked for the Hillsborough County School District for 38 years including more than 20 years as a teacher and coach. He grew up in Jackson Heights and played football and basketball at Middleton High School. The school’s stadium now bears his name.
He returned to Middleton as its coach and earned the affectionate title that stuck with him over the years: “Coach.”
Blount, though, called him “Daddy B.”
“He was a man of few words but when he spoke he had something to say,” Blount said. “He lived and led by example. We are not discouraged by his death. We are all the more encouraged by his life.”
Castor said Brown could have retired “on his laurels but he didn’t. He had a higher calling.”
Brown’s widow, Altamese Brown, said her husband was a modest man who didn’t like to call attention to his accomplishments. “I know he would have appreciated this,” she said. “But he would have been just as satisfied with a plaque.”