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William E. Brewer


1929 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
William E. Brewer Obituary
(News story) William E. Brewer, a civil engineer who taught university students after a career with construction and concrete firms and who promoted chess in schools and coffee houses, died Sunday at Ohio Living Swan Creek. He was 89.

He had congestive heart failure, his son, Bill Brewer, Jr., said.

From 1978-84, Mr. Brewer was affiliated with BGSU, where he became an associate professor of construction technology and chairman of the construction and design technology department. He was named a fellow of the American Concrete Institute in 1983, for his contribution to the industry through education. That year, he was made a member of the BGSU chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.

"He really liked the students, and some of the students talk about him still," his son said. He wrote articles in his field and a book on pavement management. Whatever the challenge, as a non-academic leading a university department, "the upside was always the students," his son said. "At BGSU, he was very proud of chairing that program."

Mr. Brewer also taught at the University of Toledo and Ohio Northern University. He was a consultant for Toledo Testing Laboratory Inc. and the city of Lima, Ohio.

He was a tireless ambassador for chess, "which he thought was the world's greatest game," his son said. He touted such qualities as the need for players to think logically, plan, and be patient.

"Once you learn how to play chess, you'll never get away from it," Mr. Brewer told The Blade in 2013. "It cleanses your mind, it keeps it young."

He developed extracurricular chess programs at area elementary schools. His Coffee House Chess League grew into a network across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. He developed a variation on the game, Mountain Pass Chess.

He was born March 30, 1929, in Alton, Ill, to Edna and James Brewer, but grew up in Toledo. His father was an accountant for what became Owens-Illinois Inc., which had a glass plant in Alton. He was a graduate of DeVilibiss High School. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering from the University of Toledo.

Working for A. Bentley & Sons Co., the legacy construction firm, Mr. Brewer surveyed land on the Anthony Wayne Trail for a Toledo Zoo parking lot. Later, he was a field engineer for Portland Cement Association. He was hired in 1969 by Kuhlman Builders Supply and Brick Co. as a vice president of engineering and technical sales. The next year, a local trade association named him its "Toledo Area Concrete Man of the Year."

"He was good at selling and working with clients to help them come up with a good solution," his son said. "He was energetic and joyful. He loved to joke and pull someone's leg and was really interested in other people. He didn't see it as sales. He saw it as building relationships."

He became a vice president of K-Krete Inc, initially a collaboration between Kuhlman and Detroit Edison Co., to sell K-Krete, a fill material. He was listed as co-inventor on K-Krete patents.

He and his young family settled on Cass Road in what was then Adams Township in a kit house, which he built - except for plumbing and electrical work. His wife, Phyllis, taught math at Rogers High School. He was a former president of the Adams Township Board of Education. The last occupied acreage in the township was annexed in 1966 to Toledo, and Toledo Public Schools absorbed the school district.

He taught himself to sail and plied the Maumee River in a Rebel, the fiberglass craft by Ray Greene, the pioneering Toledo boat builder. Mr. Brewer was a former commodore of the Perrysburg Boat Club.

He also wrote the family history and worked on chess-themed children's stories. He created candlesticks and Amish-style lanterns in his wood shop. He'd been a leader in Westminster Presbyterian Church.

"There was the engineering side, the precise side, and the creative side," his son said.

He and the former Phyllis Dale, his grade school sweetheart, married June 27, 1951. She died April 14, 2010. Their son Timothy A. Brewer died Aug. 30, 2017.

Surviving are his wife, the former Anne Cushnie, whom he married Sept. 17, 2011; son, William Brewer, Jr.; daughter, Jenny Alt; six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church of Maumee. Arrangements are by Walter Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church.
Published in Toledo Blade on Jan. 12, 2019
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