OGDEN -- Ask Linnard Holston what he does at the Marshall White Community and Recreation Center two days a week and he'll tell you not much.
The 84-year-old says his job overseeing youth who frequent the center is about babysitting and passing the time.
But Center Director Tyrone Aranda says modesty is part of Holston's charm. He describes Holston as the icon of the Marshall White Center.
Among Holston's accomplishments over the years has been decades of coaching both boxing and table tennis. As a competitor in these sports, he won several championships, including a Golden Gloves championship in boxing at 165 pounds.
"I used to take kids to tournaments all over," he said, naming Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Salt Lake City as among the places he visited with competing youth.
Aranda says Holston is part of the fabric of the community center that continues to grow to serve the needs of those who live in the heart of Ogden. Area youth may attend for free after school to participate in recreation and programs designed to teach them life skills and keep them off the streets.
"He has been here since the center opened in 1968," Aranda said. "He is one of those people with old-fashioned values. The kids respect him and they stay in line when he's around."
Holston will be among those honored Monday night at a Black History Month, Civil Rights in America celebration at the center.
And Aranda said Holston is someone other local groups, including the NAACP, wish to recognize in the near future too.
Holston is a hard worker and Korean War veteran. He's retired from the railroad now but he came to the center for many years for a part-time job after he got done with his full-time duties.
Perhaps Holston's message he passes along to kids is what makes him such an asset.
"Don't get in trouble," he recalls telling kids. "That's the knowledge I pass on. (Trouble is) easy to get in but it's hard to get out."
Holston said the children at Marshall White respect him and he respects them. "I have no problems," he said of working with them.
And it's not just the youth who look up to Holston.
Boxing coach Desi Newbill of Sunset said he looks at Holston as "a great man."
He said one of his proudest moments was meeting a man who Holston coached in boxing in the 1970s who went on to fight on the national level.
Newbill said he admires the way young people look to Holston as a mentor as he takes the time to play pickleball, box or play other sports with them.
"This generation today, it's hard to see where they are at," Newbill said, noting that Holston manages to be a friend to all he meets.
Also a boxing coach, Ron Brown of South Ogden said he met Holston at New Zion Baptist Church after he relocated to Ogden from New Mexico. He said Holston encouraged him to go to Marshall White for boxing training.
"He was a boxer himself," Brown said. "He taught me. Here I am today."
And Brown said he's not the only one to look back at Holston and give him credit for their accomplishments.
"Kids come back that have been here 20 years," Brown said. "They come back to see Mr. Holston."
And Brown said Holston is ever the gentleman.
"He loves the kids and he talks to them every day," Brown said. "I don't think there is a bad word that comes out of his mouth. ... He is one of a kind."
For Calob Cooper, 20, Holston served as the welcome committee to Ogden when he moved here last spring from Georgia.
"He was the first person I met when I moved here," Cooper said. "He's always nice to me. He's always nice to everyone. Everyone loves him."
Cooper frequents the center to play basketball and other sports.
Eddy Ambriz, 17, is a friend who participates with Cooper.
"He's a nice man," Eddy said of Holston. "He was telling me he used to box and stuff."
And Holston said he often looks back on the many lives he's touched.
"I've seen a lot of kids grow up and come through here," Holston said. "Some made it good. Some not so good."
Contact reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE.