It was a happy Mother’s Day for Bowie resident Jan Browning and her family.
Her daughter Tiffany Egenbeacher surprised Browning and her mom with the autograph of Browning’s father, Bobbie Brashear, which was collected more than 70 years ago when he played basketball at Rice University.
“When I originally started looking, it’s because I wanted to surprise my own mother. I was disappointed when I couldn’t find it so it was kind of funny when my daughter found it to give to me,” Browning said.
What culminated on May 10 was a couple of months of good fortune and coincidences.
Back in 2005 Browning’s mother, Verna Mae Brashear, gifted her a book about famous University of California, Los Angeles men’s basketball coach John Wooden called, “The Wizard of Westwood.” Her mother gave it to her because it referenced Verna Mae’s brother, Hollis Johnson, who personally knew Wooden.
Browning admits to never reading the book, but its significance would come out during April of this year once she and her mother started going through her father’s things.
Bobbie passed away in 2017. He was a part of the Jackrabbit basketball program’s first state title in 1951 before playing at Arlington State College and Rice University.
That led to him coaching for some time at local schools Bowie, Saint Jo, Montague and Bellevue, as well as Kincaid in Houston.
While at Rice, the 1953-54 team won the South Western Conference tie-breaker against Texas to qualify for the NCAA playoffs, the equivalent of today’s Sweet Sixteen round in the tournament. During his time at Rice, a 16-year-old boy named Dwight Chapin sent Brashear a letter asking to send him his autograph.
Browning was curious what happened to the young Chapin and to see if he still had her father’s autograph. After looking online, she found out Chapin was a prominent autograph collector of that time period. Research also found he co-authored the book Verna Mae had given her 15 years before.
Her family helped her track down Chapin who is still alive and lives in California. He informed her he had to downsize his autograph collection during the years and sold his 1950s’ college collection.
While tickled at the connection they shared, he was not sure where the autograph would be now. Browning looked on eBay, but came up empty.
Thankfully her daughter picked up the search and was able to find it and surprise both her mother and grandmother on Mother’s Day.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the weekend edition of the Bowie News.