Garry G. Brewer age 59 of Waynesburg died Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at Southwest Regional Medical Center in Waynesburg from complications following surgery.
He was born November 4, 1951 in Waynesburg, a son of the late Harold Stewart and Mary Lou Moore Brewer of Spraggs who survives.
He grew up in Elyria, Ohio and San Bernardino, CA, moving back to Waynesburg in 1968. He was a 1970 graduate of Waynesburg Central High School. After graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was a Vietnam Era veteran, stationed in Berlin, Germany. He later graduated from Penn Tech Institute with a degree in electronics.
Early in his career he was at employed at Republic Steel's Clyde Mine until its closing in 1994. He held a variety of jobs and retired from Consolidated Coal's Eighty-Four Mine. Mr. Brewer was a long-time tax preparer for H. & R. Block in Waynesburg. Recently he operated Brewer's Tax Service.
He was an active member of United Mine Workers of America. He served as financial secretary for Locals 688, 762, and 1197.
Mr. Brewer loved music, reading, and collecting almost anything.
Surviving in addition to his mother are his wife, Cindy S. Dulaney Brewer, whom he married December 19, 1971; one daughter, Jessica, wife of Sgt. Douglas Steves of Ft. Meade, MD.; one sister Cindy S. Brewer of Spraggs; five brothers, Michael S. Brewer and wife Cathy of Rices Landing, Keith D. Brewer and wife Catherine of San Jose, CA, H. Gregory Brewer and wife Corina of Waynesburg, Steven R. Brewer of Bridgeville, and R. Scott Brewer and wife Loretta of Spraggs; several beloved nieces and nephews, grandnieces and nephews; and a great- grand nephew and niece.
Deceased is a sister Cynthia Suzanne Brewer, who died in infancy.
Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 2 to 4 & 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Behm Funeral Homes Inc., 182 West High St., Waynesburg, where services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, May 14, 2011. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Corner Cupboard Food Bank, the Salvation Army, or the Tri-County Leathernecks Toys for Tots.
Garry was born on November 04, 1951 in Greene County Memorial Hospital, Waynesburg, PA. He was the son of Harold and Mary Lou Moore Brewer. He grew up in Elyria, Ohio and San Bernardino, California. He moved back to Waynesburg in 1968 during his sophomore year in high school.
He had seven siblings, five brothers and two sisters: Cynthia (deceased), Mike, Keith, Greg, Steve, Scott, Cindy. Garry and his siblings may have had the typical rivalries while growing up, but he was always consistently loyal to them. His grandparents were Walter and Ina Brewer and Ray and Edna Moore.
As a young child, Garry developed a love for games and sports. He set about learning the rules for every game he encountered from Jai Alai and Lacrosse to Curling. He was the family's walking "Hoyle's Book of Rules." His family said he changed the rules to suit himself. He insisted that he was handicapping the games so that the younger kids had a fair chance.
Garry was an excellent student. However, he never had to work hard for his grades. His 144 IQ made grasping almost any concept easy for him.
When he was young, he was active in Little League Baseball and Boy Scouts. He was also a member of the school chorus. Already his love of music was developing.
After he moved back to Pennsylvania in 1968, he lived with his grandparents. They were neighbors of Cindy Dulaney's family. Cin couldn't stand the fact that Garry's grandfather, Ray, who drove the bus stopped and beeped and waited for Garry to come out in the mornings. How was that fair? Everybody else had to wait at the bus stop. That early rivalry turned into friendship and friendship turned into love. They started dating in 1969.
Garry graduated from Waynesburg Central High School in 1970. He immediately joined the U. S. Army. When he found out that he was going to be stationed in Berlin, Germany he asked Cin if she'd like to get married, so she could join him. They were married at Fairall United Methodist Church in Waynesburg on December 19, 1971. She joined him in Berlin for the summer of 1972 but returned to the states for her senior year of college. (Happiness is being married to your best friend.)
Due to the fact that they were separated early in their marriage, they made a vow that they would never be separated again. And indeed there were only a few times during their marriage that they slept apart. During a weekend trip that Cin made with his mother, Garry and his dog, Adolph, went to his mother-in-law's and sat on the couch most of the time. Madge said that first Garry would sigh and then Adolph would sigh. She met Cin at the door when she got home and said, "Don't you ever leave those two again." She didn't.
Garry and Cin had trouble conceiving a child. Who would have thought that the oldest of seven married to the youngest of six would have trouble having a baby. They adopted Jessica in December of 1979. He loved Jess more than words can ever describe. Granted there were some bumps in the road of life, especially during her teen years but his love was never in doubt. When Jess married Douglas Steves, he grew to love him as a son.
Garry was painfully shy around people other than family during the early years of his marriage. Even the case worker for the adoption ended up feeling sorry for him because he was so nervous and she worked hard to put him at ease. He came out of his shell during Jessica's Little League Baseball days. He wanted to be involved and worked hard to overcome his shyness. He became an assistant coach and grew to love working with the kids and other parents. Later he worked for H&R Block and learned how to deal with the public and put them at ease. He developed into the Garry that we know and love.
Garry worked as a coal miner at Republic Steel's Clyde Mine after he got out of the Army. Almost immediately, he embraced the United Mine Workers of America. He become the consummate union man. He served as Financial Secretary for Local #688 and later for Local #762. He was Recording Secretary and later Financial Secretary for Local #1197. His work in the union allowed him and Cin to attend the UMWA Convention in Las Vegas on three different occasions. He took great pride in being a delegate.
He was a liberal Democrat and shortly before his death was elected to the Democratic Committee in Greene County. He was elected with two votes: his and Cin's. (Anytime nobody was running for a particular office, Garry and Cin always wrote in his name.) Never-the-less, he was delighted with the position and was looking forward to working the polls.
After being laid off from the mines, Garry attended Penn Tech in Pittsburgh. He received an associate degree in Electronic Technology. He also got his CDL (Commercial Driver's License.) He worked for General Cryogenics in Washington, PA as a truck driver and at Superior Valve in Washington in their Research and Development department. He worked for Merit Contracting as an electrician. During all this time, he also worked as a tax preparer at H&R Block in Waynesburg. That's where he got his nickname "Big Guy." When clients were asked who did their taxes the previous year they often replied, "I don't know, the big guy." He returned to mining in 2000 with Consol Energy's 84 mine.
Garry loved his family. Most of his social life involved having dinner and playing cards with extended family members both on his side and Cin's. Due to his exceptional mathematical skills, he was always the scorekeeper. He was also almost always the winner. Coincidence?
He had the very good fortune of being able to travel extensively. He lived in Berlin, Germany with Cin in the 1970s and was able to go there again while visiting Jess and Doug when they were stationed in Belgium. He visited Europe again while Jess and Doug were stationed in Germany. He toured Alaska and Hawaii. He traveled to Washington, DC at least once a year to set his wristwatch with the Smithsonian's atomic clock. He got to: kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland, drive on the left in England, visit Stonehenge, see the Eiffel Tower, travel by gondola to the top of the Zugspitze in Bavaria, buy Murano glass in Venice, climb Mt. Vesuvius, explore Pompeii, and walk the Ramblas in Barcelona. He rode a train to Denali National Park and panned for gold in Alaska. He got to whale watch and walk on the lava in Volcanoes National Park while in Hawaii. He walked down the Washington Monument and toured the White House. He got to travel Route 66 and peer into the Grand Canyon. How many people can say that while in Las Vegas, they met a Klingon, fumbled with the camera while trying to take a picture and earned the admonishment, "Human males, they are so hard to train." (So much of who we are is where we have been.)
Garry had many hobbies. His first love was music. He literally owned several thousand music CDs, hundreds of movie DVDs, vinyl albums and cassette tapes. His music is cataloged on his computer-every album and every song on the album with its playing time. His favorite group was TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra.) He also loved to read. He had thousands of books. He loved thrillers, spy novels, historical fiction set in the time of the Knights Templar, and especially fantasy science fiction. He enjoyed painting ceramics with family and friends. His favorite pieces were village scenes and animals. His house was filled with his handiwork. A few years before his death he discovered estate auctions. He went from being a pack rat to a hair's breadth away from being a hoarder. He collected almost anything: rock and roll memorabilia, civil war memorabilia, pins and stickers pertaining to mining, state quarters, old coins, unusual stamps, glassware, magnets and more. Just before his death, he began collecting salt and pepper shakers like his mother, Mary Lou, and grandmother, Edna.
He loved games and puzzles and watched Jeopardy (a quiz show) religiously. He loved sports and shared that love with Doug. During an extended power outage after a winter storm, Doug called from Germany after every quarter of the Super Bowl to keep him updated. They watched hockey, worked on fantasy football leagues, and filled out endless brackets for March Madness in college basketball.
Garry loved the many pets that enriched his life over the years. There was a special place in his heart for his first dog. Adolph was a wire haired terrier who earned his name because as a puppy, he goose-stepped like a little German soldier. Later he surprised everyone when he adopted not one but two little terriers, he named them Jimi (Hendrix) and Janis (Joplin.) Janis adored Garry and the feeling was mutual. It was a long time after her death before he could love again. That was when Lucy (Lucretia MacEvil) came along. She now misses him terribly.
Garry retired from 84 Mine in 2010. He continued working on taxes as Brewer's Tax Service. His clients became friends and he was fiercely loyal to them (and they to him.)
Garry passed away on May 10, 2011 in Southwest Regional Medical Center in Waynesburg, PA. He was 59 years old. Death was due to complications that developed following knee replacement surgery. He was preceded in death by his father, Harold Brewer, and a sister, Cynthia Suzanne. He was survived by his wife, Cindy, and daughter and son-in-law, Jessica and Douglas Steves. Services were handled by Behm Funeral Home in Waynesburg, PA. Garry was cremated and rests on the hearth in his home.
Many would say that "commitment" is a word that best describes the life of Garry G. Brewer. He was committed to living the life of a good man who was both practical and trustworthy. He was committed to the values that he upheld his entire life. He committed himself to being a hard worker who expected the same effort in return from others. Most of all, he was committed to those he knew and loved.
Susan Gilbert-Kiger, Garry's niece, officiated at his funeral service. While planning the service, his family shared their favorite stories and all agreed that the best way to honor him was with his music. Susan began by showing Garry's music to everyone. He had a three inch thick, loose leaf notebook full of type-written pages that listed all his CDs; every song on the CD and its playing time. Family and friends would call at all hours to ask Garry who performed such and such song and he always knew. She had to confess about eating some crow as she gathered the music for the service. She always made fun of him behind his back (and sometimes to his face) about putting his CDs in alphabetical order. However, that allowed her to find everything she needed in about fifteen minutes. She admitted to one problem. She could not find the Byrds until Cin told her that it was spelled By not Bi. She urged everyone to listen to the music, think of Garry and enjoy their memories.
The first song was "Amazing Grace" played on the bagpipes.
Susan shared that as Garry's family reminisced, they shared moments of laughter when Garry did something so funny that they would always remember. One occasion was when the family went to Blackwater Falls for a picnic. The sign plainly said, "Do Not Touch." Garry had to touch. He marched stiff legged up to it like a Frankenstein monster and just touched it. Immediately, the sign and the large posts that held it crashed to the ground. It was caught on tape for posterity. However, they could not send it to America's Funniest Videos because he didn't want the park to know who destroyed their property and he didn't want to pay for that sign.
We then listened to "Tears In Heaven" by Eric Clapton.
Susan then read "Death Is Nothing At All" by Henry Scott Holland:
Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Pray, smile, think of me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effect, without a trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well."
We listened to "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds.
Another funny time she shared that will always be remembered was the Christmas that he received a Rudolph g-string as a gag gift. Off he headed to the bathroom and returned moments later modeling it. The family was hysterical. He said that the last gift had been opened and the party was dying down. He just wanted to liven things up. He certainly did.
We listened to "Let It Be" by the Beatles.
Susan read "A Parable of Immortality" by Henry Van Dyke:
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!"
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: "There she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!"
And that is dying.
We listened to "Dust In The Wind" by Kansas.
Cathy Brewer shared her story of going to the auctions with Garry. It was Mike and Cathy that first went to the auction. They kept telling Garry stories about their great finds. After accompanying them just one time, Garry was hooked. One night there was a "Little Box of Happiness" (as they referred to a box of what-nots) on the block but nobody was bidding. When the auctioner got down to, "Will somebody give me a dollar, please," Garry and Cathy both bid at the same time. Mike whispered, "You know you're bidding against Garry." Cathy replied, " But I wanted that toothpick holder." Cathy gave Garry credit for being a gentleman and letting her have the box. She took her toothpick holder and let him have a little glass dog. The dog is still on a shelf in this office.
Susan shared her own story about Garry. Her mother, Suzanne (Cin's sister) painted ceramics with Garry, Cin and other family members each week. Early on, Garry bought a ceramic duck to paint. For years he did not paint it. Everyone picked on him about it. One night her mother, who never cussed or said bad words said, "Garry, are you ever going to paint that F'in duck?" Only she didn't say F'in. She said a word that rhymes with duck. We still laugh about it and often asked Garry if the F'in duck was done. It's still downstairs in the paint room.
We listened to "The Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles.
The last song was one of Garry's favorites. Every year (and sometimes several times a year) Garry and Cin went to see TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra) at Christmas time. Susan commented on how many places they had seen them; Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Washington DC, Hershey, Erie, and Las Vegas. Every year they cried while listening to this song as a father laments that his tree is missing an ornament. The ornament is his daughter who is not at home for Christmas. Their child, Jess was hardly ever home for Christmas because her husband, Doug was in the Army and stationed in Europe. In the words from the concert, "For even in a crowd you see, a heart can feel alone, when the night is Christmas Eve and a child is not at home." Now Garry is our missing ornament.
We listened to "Ornament" by Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Susan read A Celtic Prayer:
May the earth be soft under you when you rest upon it tired at the end of the day.
May the earth rest easy over you when at last you lie under it.
May the earth rest so lightly over you that your spirit may be out from under it quickly, up and off and on its way.
She closed with a quote by Thomas Campbell.
"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die."