Joseph Brady, longtime Marana High School teacher and track and cross-country coach had an impact on many.


Marana lost a stalwart member of its community when longtime Marana High School teacher and coach Joseph Brady died July 19, of natural causes, at age 66.

"I'm so saddened by it," said Marana High School Principal Allison Murphy, who was taught by Brady, then later taught beside him before serving as principal when he was volunteering. "He was such a great man."

Born in Bisbee in 1947, Brady grew up in nearby Warren. He attended Bisbee High School, where he met Lynda, his wife of 43 years. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a chemistry degree.

In 1970 Brady started teaching at Marana High School, where he started the school's cross-country program. He was inducted into the Arizona Track & Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame in 2009.

After Brady retired in 2007, he stayed involved by volunteering as a track and cross-country coach and official at the high school.

He has two sons, 39-year-old Matt and 34-year-old James - both Tucson Police Department officers - and four grandchildren; two from each son.

"He had a pretty big impact on the Marana community," Murphy said. "He was really neat. Just extremely passionate about the subject. He was very dedicated."

Matt started off as a teacher at Marana before becoming a policeman. He taught from 2001 to 2006.

"He had an impact on me, going that route of becoming a teacher," Matt said. "I think he also had influence on me going to become an officer, to help people on a daily basis. He was one of my major motivators."

Matt remembers his father working at cross-country meets, as well as announcing and running the clock at football games.

Matt said that since his father has died, the community has shown support to his family and paid tribute to Brady.

"To me, he was my dad, but going through this experience it turns out that a lot of people thought very highly of him. I've seen the word 'legend' passed around - those kinds of terms."

Murphy said Brady's passion and dedication remained strong in retirement.

"He continued to work with students and help them run track. There are several people he worked with at the school that remember him. Marana is a really small and very tight-knit community. We have a lot of alumni who work at the school, and he meant a lot to so many of them. He was just the best."

Murphy said Brady helped his students unlock their potential both on the field and in the classroom.

"He was just so passionate, and it was contagious," she said. "He taught a really hard subject. Chemistry is definitely not easy. But he got excited to blow stuff up, and he really got kids engaged in science. He was constantly doing labs. Very hands-on. One of the things he instilled in me was you have to be in the lab all the time, because that's how kids learn - by seeing and experimenting."

James was always in awe of his father's intelligence and drive.

"My dad was the smartest man I ever have known and probably ever will know. He was very well-known for his problem-solving skills. The guy could just figure out anything and could do anything he put his mind to," he said.

"He taught me everything. The guy was an intellectual individual, and very intelligent. He studied chemistry, physics and higher math, and was familiar with the works of Shakespeare. He went to college to learn Spanish on his own. He taught me how to rebuild engines in cars, do masonry work, framing, everything."

Matt said his father helped everyone achieve their best.

"My dad had patience and the willingness to try to see everybody succeed," Matt said. "That was his thing. He was a big believer that if you put your mind to anything, and were motivated enough, you could accomplish anything. He imparted that to my brother and I."

Joseph Brady's wife summed up his passions.

"He lived for Marana High School track and field and cross-country. That was very important to him," Lynda said. "He devoted his life to it. Find something you love doing and something you're passionate about. That was important to him."

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or