Dr. Paul W. Brewer, age 94 years, of Jefferson City, Mo. passed away Sunday, February 3, 2019 at St. Joseph’s Bluffs.
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Paul was born in West Eminence, Missouri, in 1924 to Melvin “M.M.” Brewer and Ora Ethel Lay Brewer. His father, a mill worker for the local lumber company had been gloriously saved when an evangelist had visited the town. Paul’s father, sensing God’s call to the ministry, began preaching, and he pioneered many churches in southern Missouri. Life was hard for the Brewer family, and Paul remembers being pulled out of school in the second grade to help his father and older brother, Melvin, work in the cotton fields to provide for the family. “Dad worked two rows of cotton, Melvin worked one on his right, and I worked the lower part of a row on his left, reaching as high as I could. Dad would later quickly pick the remainder of the cotton on my row that was out of my reach.”
When the Lake of the Ozarks dam was built and the Assemblies of God purchased a peninsula of land for a campground, Paul, age 16, and his father helped clear the land, construct a tabernacle, and build the simple seats. The Sanders family was also helping at the campgrounds, and Dad’s eye noticed the young and beautiful Rosemary Sanders, age 15, who was helping to prepare meals for the working crew.
Paul graduated from Springfield (Missouri) High School in 1943 and was inducted into the U.S. Army on May 16, 1943. Paul’s sister, Bonny, asked Rosemary Sanders to write to Paul while he was overseas. Paul was delighted! Paul knew that his letters were censored by the US Army, to make sure no military secrets were accidently revealed. What he didn’t know was that Rosemary’s father, a minister affectionally called Pop Sanders, was also censoring the letters, steaming them open and reading them before he resealed them and gave them to Rosemary. LeRoy Sanders, Rosemary’s older brother, told Paul that he could not consider marriage to his sister until the war was over. LeRoy said he would not have his sister be a widow! Paul found that interesting because he and Rosemary had not even talked about marriage at that time. Everyone seemed to know but Paul. After the war, he discovered that one of the Army censors, after approving his letter to be mailed to Rosemary, wrote on the bottom, “Awe Rose, can’t you see that he loves you?”
Paul was trained as an infantryman, specifically as a surgical assistant. He was assigned to be the personal assistant to a doctor who was a full Colonel. Later he was assigned to the 61st General Hospital Unit in Scotland. His unit was responsible for the wounded who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
While in England, he joined the Army division’s baseball team. He was selected to the team because he was a lefty. He was given a mismatched uniform (trousers too big, shirt too small, and no shoes other than his boots!). When the starting first baseman went five games without a hit, Paul was given an opportunity to play first base and was inserted in the batting order at ninth (behind the pitcher!). In his first at-bat, with two outs and two men on base, he got a hit that scored both men. He batted fourth in the batting order for the rest of the season, leading the team in both batting average and runs batted in. After league play he was recognized as the MVP (Most Valuable Player) and as the “one player sure to make the majors after the war.”
Returning to the States, Paul was stationed in Alabama and began training for jungle warfare for his next assignment in the South Pacific. Fortunately, Japan surrendered, and his unit prepared to be discharged. He contacted the love of his life, Rosemary Sanders, who at that time was assisting a lady evangelist who was pioneering a church. Rosemary was licensed to preach, played a mean accordion, and loved the ministry. Later she would tease Paul, “Just you remember, Paul, I was licensed to preach way before you were!” Paul wrote a letter to Pop Sanders asking for her hand in marriage. Then he called Rosemary, “Honey, the war is over. Let’s get married!” And they did, on October 22, 1945 at First Assembly of God in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Meanwhile, Paul was preaching on occasion at the invitation of various pastors, but he still intended on becoming a professional baseball player, which would provide a great living for his family. Two Chicago White Sox scouts, who were Majors in the Army and had watched him play in the Europe League, came to his barracks with a contract to play for the White Sox. Paul reports that he picked up the pen, looked at the line for his name, and knew God had another calling for his life. Later he would confess, “I walked away from the contract, went back to the barracks, and wept like a baby.” Then he would add, in reference to his tears, “I am ashamed of that now.” Paul was discharged from the Army on April 21, 1946.
Giving himself to the calling of God on his life, he enrolled in Berean College and then Central Bible Institute (CBC). His first pastorate was at Barnett Assembly of God in 1946. His salary was $2 a week (so much for providing a great living for his family!). The community responded to Paul’s ministry, and soon the church was filled with people. There were even cars parked at the open windows of the sanctuary so the overflow could see and hear the service, becoming what was undoubtedly the first drive-in church service in America! On Friday nights the local hardware store invited Paul to preach on their sidewalk. The crowds were such that the police blocked both ends of Main Street to traffic during the service. Paul reported, “I preached to more people on Friday nights than I did to my own congregation on Sunday.”
After leaving Barnett, Paul pastored in Marionville, Missouri, where their oldest son, Mark, now deceased, was born (1948). A couple of years later he was pastoring in Ames, Iowa, where he enrolled in the University of Iowa, becoming the first in his family to attend a University.
Late in 1951, at age 27, Paul was called to pastor Southside Assembly of God in St. Louis, Missouri. There Phil was born (1952), and then Ray (1953).
In 1957 Paul accepted the pastorate of Paseo Assembly of God in Kansas City. A sanctuary that seated 180 boasted of a Sunday School weekly attendance of over 200! Paseo Assembly of God eventually became Central Assembly of God, and Paul led the growing congregation to a successful relocation and construction of a beautiful new building in Raytown, Missouri.
While at Central Assembly, Paul was elected as presbyter of the Kansas City section of Assembly of God churches. As presbyter he located and purchased property for new churches in greater Kansas City, and was the overseer for several new church launches. He came up with some amazing and innovative ideas and projects. He pioneered the first group medical plan for his section of the Southern Missouri District. The medical plan was so successful that it was eventually adopted by the entire Assembly of God fellowship. He also started a “fast-pitch underhand” softball league that became very popular throughout the evangelical churches of Kansas City. There never was a ballpark that could contain Paul’s long home runs!
Another of Paul’s accomplishments was the establishment of the Highland’s Children Home in Kansas City. He secured the property debt free and oversaw the remodeling of what had been the Tom Pendergast home to meet the needs of the new orphanage. This became a labor of love for him when he and Rosemary adopted the very first child placed out of Highland’s Children Home. With the joyous addition of five-year old Brenda, the Brewer family was complete. Oh yes, in his spare time he also earned a PhD, becoming the first in the Brewer family to hold a doctorate degree.
Summers were filled with joy for the Brewer family. Paul would take his family to the Southern Missouri District campground where he taught the Bible for six weeks at the adult and youth camps. He also built, by hand, a small home on the lake where his family lived most of the summer. After teaching, he would take the family swimming, boating, and skiing.
During his time at Central Assembly, Paul took the first of several trips to Israel. He participated in an archaeological dig in the Old City of David, Jerusalem. There he actually uncovered an ancient oven that was eventually featured in Archaeology Today. Of course the credit for the find went to the head archeologist! Paul loved Israel and made it a practice to pray daily for the peace of Israel.
In 1974 Paul accepted the pastorate of First Church Assembly of God in Oakland, California. Two and one-half years later he returned to Kansas City to pastor Tiffany Fellowship, an independent Pentecostal church that he brought into the Assemblies of God. On Easter Sunday, 1986, he retired as pastor of Tiffany to care for his ailing bride, Rosemary. Retiring to the Lake of the Ozarks, he built another home by hand—Rosemary’s dream lake house.
Years later, the Camp Chapel Assembly persuaded Paul to pastor one last time, so he and Rosemary moved back to the campgrounds of Southern Missouri—the same campgrounds where they first met when he was 16 and she was 15!
In 2001 Rosemary passed away, and in 2009 Paul moved to Jefferson City and settled in at First Assembly of God. He was losing his eyesight due to macular degeneration, so he found an apartment within walking distance of the church. At First Assembly he renewed his acquaintance with a widow and longtime family friend, Wanda Lewis. Wanda had actually attended Paul’s and Rosemary’s wedding back in 1945! The reaquaintance grew into a special friendship that brought joy to them both until Wanda passed away in April, 2016.
Paul enjoyed ministering at First Assembly of God, occasionally preaching as well as teaching classes for young ministers. For many years he also delighted in co-teaching an adult Sunday School class with his dear friend, Herb Chapman.
Now legally blind, Paul secured two magnifying machines that enlarged text up to several inches high. Painstakingly, he would read his Bible, study the text, and prepare his lessons that he then memorized for the class. In his later years the majority of his waking time was spent in front of these machines, reading and studying.
Paul lived a magnificent life of integrity and faith for 94 years! Despite suffering from congestive heart failure, he was determined to stay spiritually, mentally, and physically sharp. But on January 26, 2019, Paul was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital, with breathing issues and pain. After six days, he was transferred to St. Joseph’s Bluffs for rehabilitation. Two days later, after breakfast on Sunday morning, February 3, 2019, he told the dining attendant he was going home. He returned to his room, spoke to the aides, was helped into bed, and he did just that—He went home!
Survivor’s include: three children, Philip Brewer (wife Lori) of Peculiar, Mo., Ray Brewer (wife Kim) of Columbia, Mo. and Brenda Thomas (husband John) of Kansas City, Mo.; a daughter-in-law, Patty Brewer of Kansas City, Mo.; one sister, Geneva Van Scoyk of St. Louis, Mo.; twelve grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren
Paul was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife of 56 years, Rosemary Brewer on November 11, 2001; one son, Mark Brewer in 2012; one brother, Melvin Brewer; and one sister, Bonnie Lawrence.
Visitation will be at First Assembly of God from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Saturday, February 9, 2019.
Funeral services will be conducted at 12:00 p.m. Saturday, February 9, 2019 at First Assembly of God with the Reverend Lowell Perkins officiating. Graveside service and interment with military honors will follow at Riverview Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to NOMOAG (Northern Missouri Assemblies of God) or to First Assembly of God in Jefferson City to help fund mission programs.