INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The Independence community is mourning the loss of a well-known and beloved coach, who died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday night.
Steve Broughton was a coach and teacher at Truman High School for over 25 years, and the students and faculty remembered him on Wednesday.
Coach Broughton didn't just spend the bulk of his career at Truman High School, he was also a student there. After high school, he went on to be a basketball star at William Jewell College, and then coached for a few years at Concordia before coming home to Truman.
"Steve was as well-liked and popular and well-known a coach as you could ever hope to be," said Eric Holm, athletic director at the high school.
Holm knew Broughton perhaps better than anyone. They weren’t just co-workers; they were friends since they were 12 years old.
"Some people would say we were like brothers, and we would consider that," Holm said.
When Broughton was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last July 3, Holm said he and his "brother" did what they always did,
"We went to a Royals game after that and he said, ‘I just don't understand this. I feel fine. And they tell me I have 6 months to a year.’ It wasn't that long after that the deterioration started," Holm said.
A deterioration that was painful for students to watch.
"After all this happened, our team got together and the whole school rallied around him," said Truman basketball player Keith Fletcher.
Fletcher is one of many students and teachers who embraced Broughton during his fight to live; giving back to the coach they say gave so much to them.
Emery Staton is on the softball team, which was coached by Broughton. She said his effect on the students he taught and coached began from the first moment he entered their lives.
"Definitely the inspiration of the team, even before all this went down," she said.
During the final months of his life, students and faculty organized a charity basketball game with former players to raise money for the Broughton family. In another show of support, Broughton, although sick, was the honored guest at the school's annual cancer fundraiser, “Relay for Life,” walking the opening lap, followed by the high school community.
Hailee Cramer was on committees for both events, and said she got much more out of it than she ever expected. The experience changed her perspective.
"My grandpa, he had the same thing with him (pancreatic cancer) and he didn't necessarily take it as well as he (Broughton) did. But it's nice to see someone that can actually put a fight and be an inspiration to all of us and to me," Cramer said.
Although Holm said Broughton had so much more to give the world, he said Broughton lived life to the fullest until the very end, never letting cancer take away his caring, compassionate personality, nor his funny personality,
"I know that it was too soon, he did not want do go, he didn't want to go," he said. "He was just so disappointed and sad that it was happening, but he didn't dwell on it, he was trying to live his life and trying to look forward. Steve lived life well and he made an impact, and he left something behind. That will always be remembered by everybody."
Coach Broughton is survived by his mother, a wife and two adult children, who followed in their father’s footsteps as coaches and teachers.