The Annual Great Brooksvillian voting process was completed by the Brooksville City Council with the announcement of Tom Varn as the Great Brooksvillian of the Year for 2022; an award now in its 20th year.
A Hernando County native, he was born in November of 1921 and grew up in Brooksville. He played sports throughout his youth and continued on to his Hernando High School career where he played quarterback for the football team, shortstop on the baseball team, and was a leading scorer as forward for the basketball team. He was voted Most Outstanding Athlete at Hernando High during the 1941-42 school year.
In 1942, he enlisted in the Navy where he served three and a half years during World War II as a gunner on a torpedo bomber. He flew 40 missions, was shot down three times, and spent seven days on a small rubber raft in the Central Pacific. He later said that he made a promise to God while in the raft that if he was saved, “I would spend the rest of my life serving the young people of Brooksville.” During his military service, Mr. Varn, received the Distinguished Flying Cross and was present at the Battle of the Philippine Sea and Battle of Leyte Gulf as well as flew in strikes against Taiwan and Iwo Jima.
After the war he attended the University of Florida. In 1948, he began his teaching and coaching career and then went on to become the most successful coach in Hernando County history. He stayed true to his word and served as coach and worked as athletic director in the Hernando County school system for 37 years. Much of his success was attributed to his strict disciplinary and fundamentalist ways. He coached basketball for three years, football for nine years, baseball for 22 years, and golf for many years. He started the girls' softball program at Hernando High School in 1979 and coached that team for seven years. His Hernando High School baseball team won the State championship in 1967. In 1983, Mr. Varn was elected to the Florida High School Coaches Hall of Fame then in 1984 his Hernando High team won the softball crown.
Coach Varn’s roots were in Brooksville and his loyalty was unwavering, he was well-known for telling his friends, “When you die and go to heaven, you’ll be in Brooksville." In tribute to his dedication and long success as a coach, a Brooksville City park was dedicated to him in 1997 which became known as Tom Varn Park.
Mr. Varn also was involved in politics, starting in 1960, when he unsuccessfully sought the post of school superintendent. Ten years later, in 1970, he replaced Dr. E. K. House as a Brooksville City Council member, a position he kept for 15 years. He served four terms on the Brooksville City Council, including one term as Mayor in 1983. Three times he ran unopposed.
The “Great Brooksvillian of the Year” is an annual award program established by the City of Brooksville, Florida in 2002. This program promotes distinguished individuals who are nominated by citizens to be recognized and honored for their significant contributions to the history, culture and/or economy of our community or have had connections and/or ties to our community.
A lifetime resident, Tom will be honored posthumously as he passed away June 26, 1993. The Great Brooksvillian reception will be held on October 10, 2022, at the City of Brooksville City Hall located at 201 Howell Ave., Brooksville. The reception will take place at 5:30 pm and is open to the public.
For more information, please contact Lisa Morris at (352) 540-3810 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org