MANATEE -- East Bradenton Pool has been renamed after a Manatee County legend.
The pool, 1119 13th Ave. E., Bradenton, will now be the Willie J. "Bro" Clemons, Jr. Pool after the Manatee County Commission unanimously approved the renaming Tuesday.
"It brings family together, and East Bradenton is a family," said Commissioner Charles Smith, who requested the renaming. "It brings history back to the forefront. It brings loved ones back to East Bradenton Pool."
A renaming dedication ceremony will be held at the pool for the community where a memorial plaque with Clemons' engraved portrait and brief facts about his life will be unveiled.
During Tuesday's meeting, many of Clemons' family and friends spoke in support of the renaming, sharing memories of Clemons, who was a coach and director of several youth centers in Manatee County. Clemons died in 2004 at 62.
Clemons, who coached and mentored many young athletes at the former Lincoln High School -- now Lincoln Middle -- and Southeast High School, was also the director of several youth agencies, including the Palmetto Youth Center, 13th Avenue Community Center and Police Athletic League. Clemons graduated from Lincoln High School in 1960 and Florida A&M University in 1964.
Mary Brown, the Rubonia Community Association chairwoman, said Clemons was a respectful person with tenacity.
"His heart was here in Manatee County," Brown said.
Bradenton City Councilman Harold Byrd said Clemons was a mentor in his life, primarily as his coach at Southeast High School.
"Coach Clemons, that's the way I knew him," Byrd said. "My life was impacted by Coach Clemons. ... He was a mentor in my life as well as others in this community. It is a great honor for you to be renaming that pool."
With the community leaders showing their support of renaming the pool, Willie J. Clemons III, Clemons' son, said it will help.
"Right now our community is changing and not always for the better," Clemons' son said. "By renaming the pool and giving us a meeting place, it will help the individuals trying to change back the community in a positive way."
Commissioner Betsy Benac applauded Smith for bringing the idea forward.
"This is a wonderful honor for someone, but it also brings recognition to this area which I think is so important," she said. "This pool has been underutilized."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.