J. Harold Brinley was a devoted Nevadan who sang silly songs about the state during car rides. He was a health fanatic. He went by "Granddad" to his many grandchildren.
But it's his milestones as a 39-year Las Vegas educator that earned him the most recognition.
His tenure as an award-winning teacher, principal, administrator and finally superintendent of schools earned him a school, Brinley Middle School, 2480 Maverick St., dedicated to him in the 1970s.
In October, View Neighborhood Newspapers profiled the school and its namesake for the newspapers' monthly "Naming Las Vegas" feature.
But there's more to the story.
Tara Walker Morris, Brinley's great- granddaughter, was helping her daughter with a last-minute genealogy project for school when she noticed a blip in his local history.
"I said, 'I guess it won't be a big deal . Some of your ancestors are on the Internet,' " Morris said.
A few clicks later, she came across the Oct. 5 article, "Brinley honors educator who rose through ranks of school system."
"I read through it and knew this was him, and then I got to the end," she said. "It said, 'It is unknown if Brinley was married or had descendants.' That's not true."
In fact, Brinley has dozens of family living in the valley. Most have called Las Vegas or Henderson home for their whole life.
Brinley and his wife, Vera Lee, had two daughters, Rowena and Audrey June. Rowena, who goes by "Rae," is in her late 80s and lives near St. George, Utah.
The sisters produced seven grandchildren for Brinley, including Morris' mother, Terry Walker.
Walker said there were 38 great-grandchildren and many great-great-grandchildren.
Brinley was very close to his grandchildren and insisted they call him "Granddad."
Walker remembered visiting his home on the 500 block of Ninth Street, where he was always caught singing and teaching little lessons. The home was near Las Vegas High School, where he taught.
He was ahead of his time health-wise, Walker said, because he didn't eat refined sugars or a lot of red meat.
"He was very intelligent," she said. "Of course, we loved sugar, and he was always trying to convince us it's not good for you."
Walker was floored when she once saw him eat an ice cream cone. He had a good sense of humor about the instance, she said.
It may be no surprise that he was co-chairman of the Nutrition Council through the American Red Cross.
Brinley was devoted to his wife through her times of illness.
"He just adored her," Walker said.
Outside of family and the classroom, Brinley spent time volunteering for the Boy Scouts of America, was on the board of trustees for the YMCA and helped establish the American Red Cross through Community Chest, which is now the United Way of Southern Nevada.
Brinley died in a plane crash in July 1968.
None of Brinley's descendants attends or has attended Brinley Middle School. Morris is the only family member she knew of who followed in his footsteps to study education.
"I would be happy to be involved in the school, but we just haven't," Morris said.
Penny Ramos-Bennett, communications assistant for the Clark County School District, said a former district employee tasked himself to keep records of school namesakes, but information about Brinley's family life must have fallen through the cracks.
Families of other namesakes stay active at the schools, she said.
"This is a whole new chapter for not only this family but for that school," she said.
Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-3839.