Brayton's life celebrated at Thursday service

PULLMAN -- Family, friends, former players and a long list of other admirers came from near and far Thursday morning to pay their respects to the man whose famous nickname is synonymous with Washington State Cougars baseball. The life of Chuck “Bobo” Brayton was celebrated with equal measures of joy, humor and affection at a service attended by hundreds at Pullman’s Concordia Lutheran Church.

Brayton, WSU’s baseball coach from 1962-94, died Saturday at age 89.

“He had a tremendously infectious, can’t-lose spirit,” former NFL player Tyler Brayton, Bobo’s grandson, told the audience. “He was beyond motivated. He was over-the-top hard working.

“He was a fierce competitor. He was a man of action. He was loyal to a fault. He lived with so much passion. He seemed to enjoy all that he did.

“He had a great sense of humor. He could tell a story like no other. He was a man of high character. He did what he (said) he was going to do. He loved his family and always put family first.”

Fritz Brayton, a former WSU football player who also played baseball for his father, read from a written speech Bobo delivered at a Christmas function for the school’s grounds and maintenance employees. The coach’s words reflect his motivational skills and appreciation for a job well done.

“You people have a thankless job,” Brayton told the workers. “People just begin to believe the ice is going to be gone in the morning in the winter, the grass and leaves will be picked up and the buildings will be clean and in great repair. The buildings will be cool or warm for their needs.

“Other people come from all over the world to the campus and go away saying how beautiful it is. We take pride in saying, ‘Yes it is.’ But no one takes the time to give the credit to the people who make it happen: You people, the buildings and grounds facilities people. You people have and will always continue to do a great job.”

Dave Edler, a Yakima pastor who played for Brayton before going on the major leagues, said the coach’s impact on his life is something he values to this day.

“I can still clearly see Bobo in the third-base box yelling at me to ‘Make something happen,’” Edler said. “I lived my life trying to do that. I’ll attempt to live the rest of my life trying to do that.” At the family’s request, the WSU fight song was sung – with Bobo-like spirit, it should be noted – and an organist played “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as the church emptied.

Jud Heathcote, who guided Magic Johnson and Michigan State to a national basketball title long after he served as WSU’s junior varsity basketball coach while sharing a Bohler Gym office with Brayton, was among those in attendance.

On his way back home to Spokane, perhaps Heathcote noticed the sign out front of the Cougar Country Drive-In. It read: RIP BOBO. YOU WILL BE MISSED.

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