Ole Miss

The Coast lost a football legend on Christmas Day

Raymond Brown works out while punting for the Baltimore Colts.
Raymond Brown works out while punting for the Baltimore Colts. Courtesy Raymond Brown

Former Ole Miss star and NFL champion Raymond Lloyd “Ray” Brown died at the age of 81.

Brown, who lived in Pascagoula and Gautier, passed away unexpectedly while on a Christmas day walk through the trails of his Coast property, with his beloved dog, Bebe, by his side and his work gloves on.

A prep star at Greenville High from 1951-54, Brown earned 11 athletic letters in football, baseball, basketball and track, captained the 1953 Big Eight Championship football team and was a two-time All-State and All-America selection.

He went on to lead Ole Miss on offense, defense and special teams from ’54-’57, compiling an all-time record of 26-5-1. Arguably his most famous performance came in the 1958 Sugar Bowl, a 39-7 thumping of Texas. Brown rushed for 157 yards against the Longhorns, including a 92-yard touchdown run that still stands as the longest run in the game’s prestigious history, and was a unanimous MVP selection, receiving all 116 media votes. Brown previously led the SEC in passing in ’56 and total offense in ’57 and was also a member of Ole Miss’ ’56 College World Series team.

Brown was later drafted by the Baltimore Colts and collected NFL championships in ’58 and ’59 as a punter and defensive back. He played a big role in the Colts’ 23-17 overtime thriller in 1958 against the New York Giants, considered one of the greatest games in league history.

His career achievements weren’t limited to the football field.

While playing for the Colts, Brown attended both Maryland and Ole Miss’ law schools, ultimately earning a law degree from his alma mater. Brown also earned a law clerkship at the United States Supreme Court, where he clerked for Justice Tom Clark. He later moved to the Coast, where he was a successful lawyer in Pascagoula and in 1977 became the youngest president of the Mississippi Bar.

Brown is enshrined in numerous halls of fame, including the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, where he was a member of the 2006 class. He was also set to be inducted into the inaugural Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame in New Orleans on Monday.

Brown’s death comes about a year after his wife, Carolyn “Lyn” Brown, died; the two were married for 58 years.

Brown was preceded in death by his father, Russell L. Brown and his mother, Agnes Brown Mason. He is survived by his daughter Allison Brown Buchanan (Patrick), son Raymond L. Brown Jr. (Virginia Mary), Beverly Brown Dees (Hale), and eight grandchildren, including Hawtin and Frances Buchanan; Raymond, III, Thompson, Patrick and Walker Brown; and Wesley and Sydney Fontaine. He leaves two brothers, Jerry Russell Brown and Donald Hays Brown, and a sister, Sally Rebecca (Beki) Brown Morgan.

“I will miss him so very much forever and always. Thank you for being my brother Raymond. I love you,” Morgan posted on Facebook Tuesday morning.

Brown was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Pascagoula, where he served as Chairman of the Board of Trustuees, among other positions. He also served as Chairman of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, President of Pascagoula Rotary and President of the Jaycees. Among other positions, brown was a member of Gautier’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Visitation will be held Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at the Grand Magnolia Ballroom in Pascagoula. Brown’s funeral service will be held at First United Methodist Church in Pascagoula on Friday at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, Brown’s family wishes consideration of memorials to the University of Mississippi Raymond L. Brown Scholarship in Law, c/o University of Mississippi Foundation or the First United Methodist Church in Pascagoula.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs