John Grisham

Mel Filler, coach and mentor

Mel Filler, coach and mentor

Mel Filler, known to generations of high-school football players simply as "Coach," and to former players as "Uncle Mel," died Dec. 5 after a three-year battle with leukemia. A longtime Forest Hill resident, he was 86.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., he attended Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush, earning his high school diploma from the School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan. After a stint as an Army medic took him to Europe during World War II, he enrolled at Shepherd College in West Virginia, graduating in 1950, then earned his Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University in New York in 1951.

He moved to Baltimore that year, taking a job as an art...