Dr. M. Carey Brewer ’49, ’85 LL.D., the seventh president of Lynchburg College, passed away on Friday, December 4. A celebration of his life will be held Wednesday, December 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. in Memorial Ballroom.
“I have often referred to him as a ‘President of Presidents,’” said Lynchburg College President Dr. Kenneth R. Garren. “He was the greatest builder in this College’s history and was a spirited leader and supporter of the College community. President emeritus Brewer was my adopted mentor and role model.”
The youngest president in the history of the College, Dr. Brewer was 36 when he took office on Feb. 1, 1964, after having served as director of emergency preparedness in the administration of President John F. Kennedy. Dr. Brewer served as president of LC for 19 years, leaving the position in 1983.
A year after his inauguration, Dr. Brewer launched the Partnership for Progress development program, a 10-year effort that was completed in five years, resulting in one of the most ambitious building programs the College has ever undertaken. During his administration, 14 buildings were either built or renovated, student enrollment grew from 831 to 1,700, the faculty tripled from 45 to 120, the percentage of faculty with terminal degrees doubled, graduate programs were initiated, library holdings doubled twice, and total assets tripled. Under his leadership, the Board of Trustees voted to integrate the College and admit African-American students.
He served as president of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (1978-80), president of the Council of Independent Colleges (1972-74), and president of the Greater Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce (1972-73).
Dr. Brewer remained involved with the College after he stepped down from the presidency. He frequently volunteered to assist with fundraising. He was especially instrumental in raising funds to establish the John M. Turner Chair in the Humanities. He was honored by Lynchburg College with the T. Gibson Hobbs Memorial Award (1970), a Special Citation Sports Hall of Fame (1983), the Richard H. Thornton Award for Excellence (1992), and the Honorary Doctor of Law (1985). The Carey Brewer Alumni Award was established in 1983 by the Lynchburg College Alumni Association to recognize young alumni who make an outstanding contribution to society including civic, religious life, or service to alma mater. He and his wife created the Betty and Carey Brewer Centennial Scholarship Fund in 2000 to provide support to deserving students who demonstrate academic merit or promise.
As part of Centennial Celebration in 2003, he was awarded a Centennial Beacon of Excellence Award as one who “brought honor to his alma mater through his personal and professional accomplishments and contributions to his community and who has exemplified the themes of the Centennial Celebration – Scholarship, Community, and Leadership – in his personal and professional life.” In addition, a newly constructed townhouse on campus was named in his honor.
He was recognized for his outstanding community service with a Brotherhood Citation from the National Conference of Christians and Jews (now the National Conference for Community and Justice) in 1978 and the presentation of the Master Citizen’s Award by the 25th Masonic District in 2000.
A long-time, active member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Dr. Brewer served as an elder, a leader in the church school program, member of the choir, and lay speaker. He was also a member of the General Board and Finance Council of the Christian Church.
Dr. Brewer began his student career at Lynchburg College after serving in the Navy during World War II. He graduated magna cum laude with a BA in political science in 1949 and began work as a research analyst for the Library of Congress. He left this post to continue his education at Harvard University, earning a master’s degree in public administration and a PhD in political science. While at Harvard, he met John F. Kennedy, and when Kennedy was elected President of the United States, Dr. Brewer was invited to serve in the Kennedy administration. Dr. Brewer was a member of the White House staff at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and President Kennedy’s assassination.
He was married to Betty Ann Brighton Brewer ’49, herself a magna cum laude graduate of LC, and they had four children, all of whom graduated from Lynchburg College: Mary Elizabeth Brewer Huggins ’74, Robert Allen Brewer ’77, Ruth Ann Brewer Cassell ’82, ’97 MEd, and Catherine Brewer Daniel ’85. His granddaughter Carey Elizabeth Bridewell Allen was a graduate in the Centennial Class of 2003. Dr. and Mrs. Brewer had five other grandchildren, Katie, Molly, Jeanette, Elizabeth, and Davis; and a great-grandson, Brewer.
After leaving LC, Dr. and Mrs. Brewer moved to Smith Mountain Lake where he continued to be involved in his community. He served as executive director of the Bedford Memorial Hospital Foundation for three years, conducted a feasibility study that resulted in an expansion of the Bedford Public library system, and developed a master plan for the development of the 4-H Center at Smith Mountain Lake. Officially retiring in 1991, he continued as a consultant until 1995.
In a 1999 newspaper interview, he said he was enjoying retirement and loved playing golf, spending time with grandchildren, working on his family history, and researching and writing about World War II. “We’ve lived a good life,” he said. “I’ve had some tremendous experiences, and I was fortunate to be where I wanted to be at every point in my career.”
Dr. Brewer’s vision for Lynchburg College may be best summarized by one of his most memorable statements, “A great college is always in the process of becoming rather than being.”
In lieu of flowers the family has requested that gifts be sent to the Betty and Carey Brewer Centennial Scholarship Fund. Memorial gift checks should be made out to Lynchburg College (for the Betty & Carey Brewer Scholarship) and sent to: Ms. Denise A. McDonald, Advancement Office, Lynchburg College, 1501 Lakeside Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24501.