Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Event Honors an Icon Friends Pay Tribute to 'Mr. Brant'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Event Honors an Icon Friends Pay Tribute to 'Mr. Brant'

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister, Shorelines staff writer

Some people call him the Silver Fox. Some people call him coach. Others, even those who have known him for decades, call him Mr. Brant.

Whatever he's called, Ish Brant has helped so many athletes get college scholarships, given so many people their first jobs and established so many schools and libraries that he could be called an icon.

About 100 people whose lives have been influenced by Brant -- friends, former colleagues and football players -- attended a halftime ceremony at a Fletcher High School football game Thursday to honor his contributions to the community.

They came onto the football field, shook his hand stood at his side as he spoke about the positive influence sports have on youth.

The familiar figure, in his early 90s, obviously enjoyed the event.

"You could just tell by his eyes he was really enjoying it," said Corky Borders, a Kiwanis of the Jacksonville Beaches member who is raising $10,000 to start an Ish Brant college scholarship fund.

Brant said he appreciates the attention, but public service has always been important to him.

"There's always a real need for people to contribute worthwhile projects," he said.

When congratulated last week for recently turning 94, Brant said no, he's 92. When asked if two years still make a difference, Brant said, "Call me in two years and I'll let you know."

Brant's accomplishments read like an American Who's Who.

Brant coached the Fletcher High Senators from 1942 to 1956. He was elected Duval County school superintendent and ran the school system from 1957 to 1969. During that time, he was appointed by President Eisenhower to serve on the federal road board.

He was city manager in Jacksonville Beach from 1974 to 1977, then was elected to the Neptune Beach City Council and became the city's mayor in 1981, an office he held until 1989.

Along the way, he helped establish Florida Community College at Jacksonville and secured funding to build the Beaches branch library in Neptune Beach. Brant was also active on the Beaches Hospital board, Beaches Art Foundation, Boys Home Association, Boy Scouts and Kiwanis of Jacksonville's Beaches.

He was also inducted into the Jacksonville Sports Hall of Fame. A few years ago, he received the Heartland Award from Gov. Lawton Chiles, the state's highest recognition for leadership, philanthropy, integrity and service to the children and citizens of Florida.

"He's probably the most active community leader that we've had," said John "Wimpy" Sutton, whom Brant hired as a teacher and coach at Fletcher High in 1951. "He was a great boss. I learned a lot from Mr. Brant."

Brant, who was also assistant principal and dean of boys, had a reputation as a strict disciplinarian back then. …

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