Bruce and Lupe Brown met at Adamson High School when they were both 16, and they were married for 37 years. Bruce died of COVID-19 on Jan. 9.

Bruce Brown, an Oak Cliff native who married his high-school sweetheart and coached middle-school sports for over a decade, died from COVID-19 on Jan. 9. He was 59.

Brown met his wife, Lupe, when they were both in 10th grade at Adamson High School. They were married for 37 years and have two adult daughters.

“He was a great father and a great husband,” Lupe says. “He had a saying for the girls, ‘I’m beautiful, and I can be anything I want to be.’ ”

He became a member of the Girl Scouts so that he could accompany his daughters’ troops on camping trips. And he used to brush their hair every morning before school.

He worked in retail for many years but got a job as a physical education teacher and coach at St. Cecilia Catholic School when his children were students there. He was the athletic director at Holy Family Catholic Academy in Irving from 2019 until his death. Coaching was a “dream job” for a guy who was constantly cheering on everyone in his life, Lupe says.

“He loved his kids at St. Cecilia, and he loved the people he worked with,” Lupe says. “He made people in his life feel very important.”

For birthdays, he was known to fill teachers’ classrooms with balloons. Recently, he packed his daughter Kelsey’s 600-square-foot apartment with balloons as a surprise for her boyfriend’s birthday.

At Christmas, he loved to play Santa Claus. When some students told him they suspected it was him under the costume, he posted flyers around St. Cecilia bearing a photo of himself posing with Santa to prove that it couldn’t be him.

Lupe made all of his Halloween costumes, including Sully from Monsters Inc., Big Bird, Maui from Moana, the genie from Aladdin, Beast from Beauty and the Beast, the Kung Fu Panda and Shrek.

For that one, he painted his whole body green, and when he couldn’t figure out how to keep his Shrek ears on, he super-glued them to his bald head before anyone could stop him.

“He was so committed,” Kelsey says.

Everyone in the Brown family contracted COVID-19 around the same time. Bruce was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 9, a week after he’d helped Kelsey move into a new apartment. By the day of his 59th birthday, on Dec. 31, he was heavily sedated, and his family sang to him over Zoom.

“I feel cheated that he’s going to miss out on a lot of memories,” says Kelsey, who is 27. Her 30-year-old sister, Veronica, is married, but neither of them has kids yet.

“I know he’ll always be here with us,” Kelsey says. “When I get married and have babies, I know I’m going to look for him in everything I do.”

Lupe says their lives will never be the same, and they know that so many Americans are experiencing similar loss. Bruce was “big on giving blood,” so Lupe and their daughters recently donated blood, and since they all have COVID-19 antibodies, they’re also donating plasma so that it may be used in treatments for other COVID patients.

“When we knew that we were going to lose him, I didn’t have any regrets, and I know he didn’t either because we both loved each other very much,” Lupe says. “I hate that he’s not here, because he will be missed, and the house has all of his memories in it. We’re not OK, but we’re going to be strong, and we’re going to make it.”

Photos courtesy of Lupe Brown