Gordon Brewer may be gone, but Bill Barry believes the man should be remembered forever for his solid character.
Mr. Brewer, a professional appraiser who had a passion for cross-country skiing and sailing, died July 31 after a short battle with cancer.
The East Pubnico, N.S. native was 70. His funeral was held in Corner Brook, where he's been making his home since 1970, on Monday.
Barry, owner of the Barry Group fishing empire, had a number of business dealings with Mr. Brewer over the years, so he got a good sense of what made the man tick.
He said Mr. Brewer was dedicated and direct in his negotiations. He described him as tough and knowing full well what he was doing when he was in negotiation mode.
“A guy that you could do a handshake with and it lasts forever,” Barry said of his early introduction to a man he would form a friendship with for life.
Barry also got to see Mr. Brewer’s tireless volunteer work through cross-country skiing, a sport that both men have supported and promoted all their life.
Barry has always been impressed with the dedication of Mr. Brewer, who was willing to take on any challenge if it meant making life better for the folks who frequent Blow Me Down Trails. He seen so many cases where something had to be done, sometimes at a moment’s notice, and it was uncanny how Mr. Brewer would always step up to get the job done.
Whether it was passing on a ski tip, filling the role of chief of races at the club or organizing some of the biggest ski events the province ever hosted, Mr. Brewer apparently didn’t know how to say no to the countless requests over the years.
“When you looked around he was always one of the guys who was there,” he said.
Brewer’s last gig with the local nordic ski club was sharing the chairman duties for the 2014 national ski championships with Keith Payne.
During the nationals Brewer kept up a hectic pace and never missed a beat despite being ill, another sign of the man’s character, according to Barry.
“Even in that environment, when he had every excuse in the world to not be there, it wasn’t the case,” Barry said. “Not only did he show up, but I mean he had a level of humanity, a level of kindness and a level of interaction maybe even greater than he normally does.
He just put in an enormous amount of heart and soul into something that he loved his entire life, probably in his own mind wondering about the challenges that he himself had. When somebody does that you really owe that person a huge amount of respect.”
Keith Payne spent a lot of time with Mr. Brewer, particularly the past year as the duo worked together to deliver a national event to the local ski community. He got a better understanding of Mr. Brewer’s passion for the sport and the local ski club and believes his legacy will continue on, not only in the city, but across the country because of his involvement in the sport at all levels.
What really struck Payne was the man’s courage and determination as he went about his business, ensuring things would go smoothly at nationals. As sick as he was, Payne said, he didn’t want to talk about how he was feeling and really just wanted to stay focused on getting the job done. It would have made perfect sense for him to walk away and let somebody else take his place. But to Payne’s amazement Mr. Brewer never missed a meeting and was at the ski club every day during the nationals.
“I’ve never seen such courage,” Payne said.
Payne spoke to Mr. Brewer about a month ago to discus some things that had to be done to clew up the nationals.
It was at this time that Mr. Brewer told him he was going to be gone for a few weeks doing something else he loved to do — spending the day sailing — on a venture in Nova Scotia.
He just wanted to be reassured everything was under control with respect to nationals before he went on his trip.
However, it was during this venture Mr. Brewer became very ill and the trip was cut short.
“Most people didn’t really know the extent of his illness because he just didn’t let it become a large part of his life,” Payne said, adding it may be fitting that Mr. Brewer was enjoying what he loved to do — volunteering for cross-country skiing and sailing — until the very end.
“I would say the two events shortened his time with us because they were so demanding.”
*** Edited August 5 ***