Elkhart lost a big man with a big heart

Doug Brown was known all over our community.
Posted on Oct. 9, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Oct. 9, 2013 at 4:13 p.m.

Bill Beck

Side Lines

ELKHART — You might not have known his name, but his presence was likely unforgettable. You couldn’t miss him.

Doug Brown was that kind of guy.

To some, he was “Big Doug.” To his friends and colleagues, he was “D.B.”

And if you were teenager, it was likely, “Mr. Brown” or simply, “Sir.”

He was everywhere and he was the boss.

Maybe you saw Doug’s hulking frame and heard his booming, grizzly bear voice at North Side Gym during his many years as court usher for the Elkhart Sectional. He was a one-man crowd control specialist.

Doug was as much of a part of the North Side scene as the litany of memorable games. He also coached a variety of teams at St. Thomas, Brookdale and Elkhart Central.

I know he loved being around the kids.

On a larger scale, Doug stood big and tall at Notre Dame home games for more than 35 seasons. Perhaps you saw him at the stadium or the Joyce Center.

He worked the student section at football games, and was front and center courtside at basketball games.

If you ever watched the Fighting Irish on television, Douglas was a permanent fixture — left end of the floor, far corner, wearing a dark blue sportcoat. Though he was working, on occasion, in the most thrilling of ND games, you could see Doug throw up a quick fist pump.

I know he loved Notre Dame and Irish fans.

Countless numbers of players around the state may know of Doug Brown for his many years of service to the Amateur Softball Association and IHSAA softball circles. He was a regular at Elkhart’s Riverview and Pierre Moran parks. You knew when Doug bellowed out an “Out!” or “Safe!” call because the sound would carry for what seemed like miles.

When I played, he umped dozens of my games. Later when I put on the “blues,” we worked together occasionally on the diamonds. He could take it from the teams and dish it out equally as well.

I know he loved the game, the players and fellow officials.

Years upon years of helping direct the show for some aspect of our community — that was Doug Brown.

Sadly, what D.B. couldn’t steer away from was cancer. Doug Brown passed away on Tuesday morning at age 67. The last months of his life were extremely painful according to his closest friends.

One final, albeit brief, relief of the pain in his life came in August when Elkhart’s 1963 state championship football team was honored at Rice Field prior to kickoff of the annual Memorial-Central game. Surrounded by three dozen of his longtime friends, teammates and former coaches, Doug was rolled out to the 50-yard line in a wheelchair to take a bow.

I know he loved his Blue Blazer family, and to join them in celebration meant the world to him.

A cordial, complimentary figure to decades worth of athletic events and huge crowds, Doug Brown was part of the centerpiece this time. Afforded the opportunity to revel in the cheers as he fought a crushing disease, Big Doug was humbled by the moment.

Heaven just received a big man with a big heart. If a little crowd control is needed, they’ve got the right man.

R.I.P, Doug.

Bill Beck is The Elkhart Truth sports editor. Contact him on Twitter @BillBeckTruth or email to bbeck@etruth.com.

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