Sebert Brewer, Jr. died on July 31, 2017 at Eastern Maine Medical Center with his wife Barrett and his daughters Rachael and Nell at his side. He called Gila, NM and Deer Isle, ME home.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on August 20, 1940, he was the son of Frederick Sebert and Sara Catherine (Stephenson) Brewer, who imbued in him civic and political responsibility. He attended The Bright School, Baylor School, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before serving in the U.S. Navy as a 1st class torpedo man on the USS Bridget, a destroyer escort, prior to the Vietnam war. He completed executive education programs at Purdue University and Harvard Business School. He liked to say that he found his wife, Barrett, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 1972. They were married in 1974.
While escaping the late summer heat in Chattanooga, TN in 1975, Deer Isle captivated Sebert and Barrett, and the Island never let go. They spent every subsequent summer on the island, instilling a love of place in two sets of children. They adopted their two Korean daughters, Rachael Martin Brewer and Nell Barrett Brewer in 1986. Deer Isle became their permanent residence in 1992. In 2000, they began spending winters in New Mexico. Five years later, they built a house in Gila, a community as remarkable as Deer Isle was in 1975. Sebert and Barrett often said to each other, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room."
Sebert joined his father in a life-long career in the Coca-Cola business and shared his father's love for that business. He first worked at The Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Co. on the soaker line, eventually holding almost every job in the plant. He was Vice-President of Marketing for The Coca-Cola Bottling Company (Thomas) Inc. in Chattanooga and later ran the family-owned bottling franchise in Meadville, PA. from 1978 to 1987 with his wife. He served on the Board of Directors of the Miami Coca-Cola Bottling Co. until his replacement by Moshe Dayan and was elected to the Marketing Committee for Coca-Cola Bottlers' Association.
Sebert demonstrated his passion for philanthropy, which he deemed an art, and his commitment to community by giving a hand to all the communities he lived in and loved: Chattanooga, TN; Meadville, PA; Deer Isle, ME; and Gila, NM. He consistently did things for the right motivation rather than the wrong motivation, always striving to do the next right thing. He was fond of saying, "It is amazing what you can do if you don't care who gets the credit."
In 1977, Sebert inherited the position of Trustee of the Benwood Foundation Inc. in Chattanooga, TN from his father, a founding Trustee. Benwood became his passion. Funded by George Hunter and the proceeds of the sale of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company (Thomas) Inc. to the Coca-Cola Company, Benwood is a private charitable foundation. Sebert felt his duty was to insure that the donor intent of George Hunter (Uncle George) was followed. His Trusteeship of Benwood was an honored responsibility that Sebert embraced for almost forty years (1977-2015). He was the longest-serving Trustee and was elected Trustee Emeritus in 2016. While living in Chattanooga, he served on the Chattanooga Symphony Association Board and the Hunter Museum of Art, and as a Trustee of Erlanger Hospital, among many other board positions.
Living his passion in each community, Sebert established the Sally Brewer Scholarship Fund with the Chattanooga Symphony Association as well as a scholarship for Economics Majors at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA in honor of his father. He founded the Island Education Foundation on Deer Isle in 1994. That same year, he began the Deer Isle-Stonington High School Girls' Soccer Program and coached for four subsequent years. He was chair of the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School Building Committee during the construction of the new K-8 elementary school. He devoted countless hours to site selection, construction detail, and was vital in raising funds to build the Reach Performing Arts Center. The Reach transformed the Island.
In New Mexico, he founded Grant County Community Foundation in 2012. He helped sustain the back pack program, Alimento para el Nino, and the Gila Valley Mobile Food Pantry. His mother, Sally, inculcated in him an eternal zeal for orchestral music. He enjoyed season tickets to the Chattanooga Symphony and drove hours in the snow to hear the Cleveland Symphony and the Bangor Symphony. Most recently, he was supporter of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, which he called a "damn good little band". From whistling Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto on the bridge of the Bridget to underwriting, via the Grant County Community Foundation, run-out performances of the Las Cruces Symphony in Silver City for five years, he sought to share his ear for the symphony with everyone.
His wife of 43-years Barrett continues their mutual commitment to philanthropy and community along with their daughters Rachael Brewer Ayers and Nell Barrett Brewer, grandchildren Gia Nicolas Ayers, Ryan Alejandra Ayers and Davindra Brewer Bhatt and sons-in-law Timothy James Ayers and Dr. Skand Dushyant Bhatt.
Sebert's legacy includes four children from a previous marriage: Hadley Brewer Taylor, Courtney Brewer Newcomb, Kendall Vail, Frederick Sebert Brewer III, and eight grandchildren.
According to Sebert's written wishes for "no hullabaloo," there will be no formal memorial service at this time. Barrett has established a designated fund in his name with the Grant County Community Foundation. The purpose of this fund is to address unanticipated needs and unusual opportunities in the frontier communities of the Gila Valley (NM).
Memorial donations should be directed to: The Grant County Community Foundation, PO Box 1767, Silver City, NM 88062.
Published on August 9, 2017