One of the last extensive interviews with Cougars legend Bobo Brayton, in 2013, left an indelible impression of an indomitable man who died Saturday at age 89.

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Bobo Brayton was giving a tour of his 160-acre spread a few years ago, located along the south fork of the Palouse River between Pullman and Colfax. He had dubbed it the Red Cougar Ranch, of course. It was always his sanctuary, but particularly after a horrific ATV accident in 2011 knocked him for a loop.

We headed downstairs, Bobo moving gingerly with a cane, to see the memorabilia accumulated from his 44-year coaching career, the first 11 at Yakima Valley College and the final 33 years at Washington State. The stairway slats were comprised of baseball bats, including one signed by his 1965 Cougar team that made the College World Series, and another by the player Brayton regarded as the greatest he ever coached, John Olerud.

“He was a nice boy,’’ said Brayton’s wife, Eileen, then corrected herself. “A nice man. You think about them as they were, not as they are. It’s really hard to see them grow up.”

We’ll always think of Bobo Brayton as he was, gravel-voiced and full of vigor, ruling over a baseball empire in the Palouse. One of Brayton’s favorite lines was that the best ballplayers in the state went to Washington State, the backups went to Yakima, and the Huskies got all the rest.

Bobo had a lot of favorite lines. He was full of wit and bravado, always oozing a deep, abiding love for WSU, and the region. Over the years, while he was racking up conference title after conference title, bigger schools came calling — Arizona State, Oregon State, Mississippi State. Brayton was a titan of the profession and in hot demand.

“I couldn’t pull the plug,” he said. “Too many friends. You get to know a lot of people here.”

I met up with Brayton in 2013, intending to put a bow on his legacy. The story never was written, for a variety of reasons that are unimportant now, but filled me with regret when I heard of Brayton’s death, at age 89, Saturday.

I still have all my notes from the two-hour visit, surely one of the final in-depth interviews Brayton ever gave. At one point, he gestured toward the river, pointing out a deer standing in the grass. Spotting deer was one of his favorite pastimes, he said, now that he couldn’t go out and hunt them.

“I can get up and walk with a cane real good,’’ he said. “But I can’t go outside and work.”

Working was always Brayton’s life blood. Back when he was raising wheat and hay on his ranch, he’d get up at 4:30 a.m. to do the farm chores before going about the business of molding winning baseball teams. When I asked him what was the key to his success, Brayton didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“Up early and to bed late. Hard work. From the time I started in Yakima, that’s the way it was.”

Bobo and I talked about the accident, which occurred when Brayton went out on the ATV for a routine spin around the ranch. He didn’t have much recollection of what happened next, except to say, “There’s one tree on my property, and I found it.’’

What followed was a long ordeal. Brayton suffered a concussion and lots of bruises, all exacerbated by an outbreak of gout that caused more pain than the injury.

Brayton’s memory was razor sharp as he recalled one of the greatest careers in WSU, and college baseball, history.

Mariners scout Greg Hunter, who played four years for Brayton from 1987 to 1990, used the word creative to describe his beloved coach.

“He was just a quirky, different guy,’’ Hunter said. “You never knew what would come out of his mouth. It was a tough love thing, no question. Bobo kept us … I don’t know if it was on edge, or loose.”

That was a fine line Brayton straddled with the skill of an Olympic gymnast. What a career it was, full of surprising twists and turns. For six years, Brayton served, along with Judd Heathcote, as Marv Harshman’s Cougars basketball assistant. Heathcote went on to coach Magic Johnson to a national title at Michigan State. Bobo stuck with baseball.

Building a new ballpark for the Cougars become Brayton’s obsession (“a lifetime hope of mine”) early in his career. He got the whole Pullman community to pitch in — electricians helping with the wiring, farmer buddies digging out the bowl. Brayton took a $20,000 loan so he could buy remnants of old Sicks Stadium in Seattle. He sold most of it to raise funds, but the wire fencing and two foul poles from Sicks became part of the Cougars’ field.

Brayton loved to drive the vans on road trips, and every year at a tournament in Canada, the Cougars would sleep under the stars and wake up to a breakfast that Bobo cooked himself on the campfire.

The 32-team regional playoff format that became the standard for World Series qualification was his brainchild. He was instrumental in bringing the designated hitter and aluminum bats to college baseball.

And through it all, Brayton doted over his players. Hunter said that all the Cougars baseball alumni had a standing offer to crash a night or two at the ranch whenever they were in town, and many took him up on it.

When pitcher Rob Ramsay was being treated for a brain tumor, it was Brayton who drove him to and from radiation treatment each day. Until the end, a steady stream of high-school coaches would make a pilgrimage to the ranch, eager to pick the brain of the master.

He survived two heart surgeries, a terrible beaning in Yakima when he was hit in the head while pitching batting practice (which explained the ever-present batting helmet Brayton wore on the field). That one was touch-and-go for a month.

“You’ve had nine lives, let’s face it,’’ Eileen said lovingly. “Maybe even more.”

At least twice, Brayton had to fight the administration to save baseball at WSU when school officials wanted to cut it. It was just another challenge to overcome.

Brayton lived by a simple adage: “You build teams by building attitudes.” And the key was discipline. Without it, he once told The Oregonian, “All you have is a crowd at a Fourth of July picnic game. You don’t have a team.”

In January 1994, Brayton announced his resignation at the end of the season. He tearfully read a letter at a news conference, concluding, “I regret that I have but one life to give for the Cougars.’’

What a life it was.