“It’s time to go, bye-bye and good luck“
The eighteenth-century English author Samuel Johnson once said, “It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.”
Local businessman, community leader, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather Charles “Pat” Brewer exemplified this adage. On February 10th of this year, Pat Brewer passed away at the age of eighty-five after a short illness. His presence in the community and in his family will be missed by many people.
Brewer was born in Kentucky on October 20, 1937−the only child of Willian and Bernice Brewer. His parents divorced when he was twelve, and he and his mother moved to Palatka, FL. His mom worked for a car dealership, which is where his life-long love of cars began.
In 1955, Pat joined the army and was stationed in Korea, where he served for eighteen months near the Demilitarized Zone. While on leave to visit his father, he met his future wife, Yvonne Eldridge. They were married on June 6, 1958, after he came back from duty in Korea. The marriage endured for sixty-five years until his passing.
They spent their first year of marriage in California until Brewer was discharged from the army. Afterward, the couple took a cross-country road trip all the way to Daytona Beach, where Pat had gotten a job at a local funeral home. During the next few years, he worked at various funeral homes throughout the state while studying to get his Embalmer and Funeral Director’s License.
While employed in St. Petersburg, he heard of a job offer at a funeral home in Brooksville. The Brewers liked the area, so they decided to relocate again. That was in 1965, and they’ve been here ever since. Pat eventually opened his own funeral home, the well-known Brewer and Sons Funeral Home. Over the past decades, it has grown to include seven funeral homes altogether and the management of two cemeteries.
Their two children, Debby and Barry, grew up and went to school here and developed many friendships along the way. Debby went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Reading Education, while Barry followed in his father’s footsteps as a licensed funeral director and is now the owner/operator of Brewer and Sons Funeral Homes. It takes a special kind of person with special qualities to be a teacher and to be a funeral director−among them empathy and an understanding of people. Debby and Barry inherited these qualities from their father.
While building his business, Brewer became active in the community. He was a member of First Baptist Brooksville for over five decades, where he served as a trustee. He was also a past chairman of the Hernando Red Cross, helping military families. Brewer belonged to the Brooksville Kiwanis Club for fifty-five years, where he volunteered in many capacities and held offices at both the local and state level. For his service with the Kiwanis Club, Pat received several awards, including the Brooksville Kiwanis Club Kiwanian of the year award and West Hernando Kiwanian of the Year.
One of Pat’s greatest acts of service was to the children of Hernando County that needed the services of the Shriner’s Children Hospital. He helped transport many children to the burn center in Tampa.
Despite his busy schedule running a funeral home and being active in community service work, Brewer had time to pursue his passion−collecting and restoring old cars. Starting with the first car he bought at age fifteen for $200, a 1938 Chevrolet, he’s owned and restored dozens of vehicles. These included a 1948 Chevrolet convertible, a 1954 Chevrolet pickup, and a 1958 Corvette. He even purchased one of the original 1973 Cadillac Pace cars from the Indianapolis 500. Possibly his most unusual acquisition was an old Packard hearse.
After Pat and Yvonne retired, they decided to travel around the country in a motorhome. They toured throughout Florida and around the country. One of their favorite spots was New Orleans. The couple even went to Germany to visit their daughter, Debby, and her family, who were stationed there. While in Europe, they traveled to Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Italy, and England.
During one of their trips, the Brewers met a man who was organizing The Great Race Across America from Santa Rosa, California, to Jacksonville, Florida. It was sponsored by a Satellite High School auto mechanic’s class. They jumped at the chance to help with that project and took a Model A to Santa Rosa. The students raced their car every day, while Pat and Yvonne would clean it every evening so it could be in a local car show.
One of Pat’s most fulfilling experiences, after he retired, was being part of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Team (DMORT). Their responsibility was to go to the scene of various disasters to help identify victims. He was involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as well as plane crashes and other disasters. When the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, Pat went to New York City and stayed there for almost three weeks. The work of Brewer and his team was crucial in helping families find closure.
One can go on talking about Pat and his accomplishments, but the best testimony of a life well-lived is what other people say about you. Dozens of tributes filled Facebook and the funeral home’s obituary page. Here are just a few:
His son, Barry remarked, “When my dad was at a family event and he was ready to go, he was famous for getting up and stating, ‘Okay, it’s time to go, bye bye.’ And when Pat decided he was ready to make his final departure for the last time, he famously stated, ‘It’s time to go, bye bye and Good Luck.’ ”
Pat Crowley stated, “Pat was a great humanitarian with a passion for life and people. The City of Brooksville/Hernando County will miss you and your welcoming smile.”
Annmarie Guadagnino remarked, “Our Family is so sad. We have known Pat, Yvonne and family for 37 Years. Pat was a true gentleman who gave of himself to anyone or any cause in need. His conversations were unforgettable. His opinions meant something whether you agreed with him or not and his family was his treasure.
Marisa Brewer, Pat’s daughter-in-law, commented, “Pat was an inspirational man and a great father-in-law that I also truly enjoyed as a person… and his presence will be missed by all of us.”
“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear. ” −Unknown
For his wife, Yvonne; daughter Debby and husband Nick Gardner; son Barry and wife Marisa Brewer; along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, this is the eternal legacy of Charles “Pat” Brewer.