Larry Brothers Jr., 63, of Havertown, longtime Philadelphia School District teacher, Eagle Scout, church elder, championship youth basketball coach and mentor to many, has died Thursday, July 28 at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital from head injuries from a fall.
Mr. Brothers was a popular, energetic and innovative computer scientist and activity coordinator at the Eliza B. Kirkbride School in Passyunk Square for over 20 years. He taught tech skills to K-8 students, formed after-school clubs to practice coding and communications, hosted fundraising events to purchase 3D printers and robotics equipment, and supported faculty and staff as responsible for technology teachers.
As Activities Director, Mr. Brothers created and oversaw the school’s Blue & Gold Jamboree Day and numerous multicultural events, coached basketball for several seasons, and organized social gatherings for teachers and staff. “He sparked joy and molded enthusiasm for technology,” his colleagues at Kirkbride said in a online tribute. “His positivity was contagious among students and staff alike.”
Mr. Brothers previously taught at George W. Childs Elementary School in Point Breeze and served as a school bus safety instructor for private school and Lower Merion School District students. He won three championships as a youth coach in the Havertown Hoops basketball league and worked summers as a camp counselor in the Pocono Mountains and for Philadelphia’s summer employment program.
He also served as a deacon, elder, vacation Bible school director, and technology expert at Manoa Community Church in Havertown. “He had an authenticity about him,” said his wife, Lesline. “He was non-judgmental and welcoming. People could be themselves around him. If I had a bad day, he would understand.
Born June 22, 1959, Mr. Brothers was raised by his mother, Bernice, in West Philadelphia. He became an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America; played tennis and volleyball in high school; and graduated as class president of the Parkway Program Alpha in 1977. He told a reporter in an article about earning Eagle Scout status that he wanted to “own a skyscraper.”
He studied business administration at Wheeling College, now Wheeling University, in West Virginia and worked for a time as a technology customer service representative. Later, encouraged by a teacher friend who was impressed by his intelligence, empathy and enthusiasm, he earned a Bachelor of Education from Saint Joseph University in 2001 and a Master of Education from Cabrini University in 2013. .
He met Lesline Brown at St. Joseph’s, and they married in 1992 and had a son LJ. “He was a tour de force,” his wife said. “He was the perfect person for me.”
Mr. Brothers enjoyed touring the neighborhood with his pugs, Leo and Louie, and checking in on his friends. He told corny jokes, was an avid sports fan who followed the 76ers and Phillies closely, wore his Eagles gear almost everywhere, and taught his wife the difference between a first down and a touchdown.
“The neighborhood is a bit darker and will never be the same without him,” a friend said in a online tribute. Another said: ‘He was a great listener, a dedicated and passionate teacher, a true gentleman and a scholar. I’m a better person for knowing him. The world was a little brighter when he was there.
Mr Brothers cooked memorable mac and cheese, shared food with the homeless and one year old cooked two turkeys for Thanksgiving Day, one at home for his family and friends and another as a guest who was asked to take over because the hosts knew his recipe was second to none.
“He was a brother to us, not just a brother-in-law,” his wife’s family said in a tribute. “You don’t often see the enthusiasm he had for teaching and the positivity he embodied for everything. He always found solutions.
Mr. Brothers’ charisma lasted a lifetime, and his wife marveled at how children of all kinds were drawn to his personal warmth and sensitivity. “He always had a connection with them,” she said.
Colleagues at Kirkbride said: “Pupils in all grades knew and loved Mr Brothers. His kindness, compassion and partnership…will remain his legacy.
Besides his wife, son and mother, Mr. Brothers is survived by other relatives.
A celebration of his life is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, August 20 at Manoa Community Church, 153 N. Eagle Rd., Havertown, Pa. 19083. Visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.