Herbie Brenner is being remembered fondly as a beloved teacher and coach at Lynn Classical High School and a highly respected official and mentor in the greyhound racing industry.
Brenner, who coached basketball at Classical for 23 years and served as the presiding judge and director of racing at Wonderland Park during a 52-year career at the Revere greyhound track, died on July 2. He was 93.
Ron Wohlen, former assistant general manager at Wonderland, worked with Brenner at the greyhound track in Revere for 30 years.
“We both shared our two greatest passions, greyhound racing and basketball,” said Wohlen. “We would talk often about the great greyhounds that ran and Herbie’s accomplishments and career in basketball. It was 30 great years we worked together.”
Wohlen said he was sad when their association at Wonderland ended in 2008 after greyhound racing was banned in Massachusetts.
“Herbie was a great guy and a gentleman,” said Wohlen. “He was an excellent racing judge, well respected by all. Whenever I needed advice about a decision I was going to make, I would consult with Herbie and he was always spot on in the advice he gave me. I can’t speak highly enough about him.”
Wohlen, who now works in gaming management, said Brenner was a mentor in his career.
“Herbie was one of two people who helped shaped me in this business,” said Wohlen. “The first one was when I broke into the business as a young guy. When I came to Wonderland in 1978, Herbie took me under his wing and we ran the racing department for 30 years.”
Gary Brenner worked as a chart writer for 20 years in the Wonderland racing department that was headed by his father.
“He oversaw racing at Wonderland and the best thing was that he was my boss as well,” said Brenner. “My father was passionate about dog racing in the summer and it goes without saying how passionate he was about coaching basketball in the winter time.”
Brenner said he enjoyed working at Wonderland alongside his father.
“It was a dream job,” said Brenner. “Not only did I love working at Wonderland but I loved working with my father for those 20 years. It was fantastic. We were both sad when Wonderland closed.”
Brenner said people would often tell him about how his father had helped them.
“People had nothing but good things to say about him,” said Brenner, who works at Lynn City Hall. “They not only admired him but they respected him. When he was coaching, he wouldn’t yell and scream on the sidelines. His players respected what he was doing as a coach. So many times after he retired from coaching, former players would come up to him and give him a hug and say, ‘you did so for me.’ They actually thought that he had changed their lives because of the things that he taught them as a coach.”
Lynn resident Patrick Smith said his father, the late Micky Smith, introduced him to Brenner.
“I used to go to Classical games and he was always nice to people,” said Smith. “He was a gentleman wherever he traveled.”