FLORENCE — Samuel Lee Brewer gave generously of himself to his Lord and his fellow man. His kind deeds and dedicated service reached beyond his immediate surroundings through his strong involvement in civic, educational and fraternal organizations. Sam’s outgoing personality and determination to succeed propelled him into a life of service as a Christian, educator, athlete, coach, counselor, organizer and community activist.
Sam was born to James and Ivory Brewer in St. Florian, Alabama on February 7, 1943. He was the eighth of nine children and had four sisters and four brothers, Louise, James, William, Flora, Nella Dean, Joe, Lillie and Moses. In 1948, the family relocated to Florence, Alabama where he and his siblings were raised in a nurturing, loving home where religion and education were emphasized.
Sam and three of his siblings were raised in the Catholic Church, following in the footsteps of their grandmother and father who were the first Catholic African Americans in St. Florian. Sam and his siblings were confirmed in Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Florence. Sam possessed a strong faith in God and after desegregation became a highly active parishioner of St. Joseph Catholic Church. Throughout his life, Sam spoke at many churches in and around the area offering spiritual inspiration. Every Sunday he occupied the front pew on the left side of the sanctuary until his health began to decline. His affiliation with other religious activities included Knights of Columbus and St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Sam’s educational journey began at Slater Elementary School in Florence. Always eager to be a leader, he excelled in academics and athletics. His participation in neighborhood sandlot games along with his brother, Moses and the other “Handy Hill” boys sharpened his skills in football, basketball, baseball and golf. Sam combined his athletic prowess and his innate intelligence to become a school leader. Upon entering Burrell-Slater High School in 1958, he was recognized as an asset to his school by students and teachers. Sam teamed with William Hough and Larry Hargrove to ensure that the scores of their high school’s sports teams were reported in the sports section of the Times Daily Newspaper. Sam became the sports announcer for all the Burrell-Slater home football games and was known around the area as the “Voice of the Crimson Tigers.”
In September 1962, he enrolled at Alabama A & M College (now University) in Normal, Alabama where he majored in elementary education. During his four years there, he affiliated with many college organizations but none so significant as Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Sam went on to obtain a Master’s degree and an Educational Specialist degree in Administration from A & M. He did additional graduate work at Auburn University.
Sam married Vernita Crooms after finishing college and from this union they were blessed with two children, Davala and Samuel Jr.
In 1966, Sam’s illustrious career began as a recreational director at the W.C. Handy Recreation Center where he assisted many of the African American athletes he coached to obtain scholarships to play at the college level. His strong character, charismatic leadership and superb athletic ability was such a positive influence on the boys he coached, that they still praise and thank him for his enormous impact on their lives.
In 1973, Sam accepted the position of sixth grade math teacher at Avalon Middle School in Muscle Shoals. In 1983, he became principal of Webster Elementary School, a position he held until his retirement in 1997. As an extracurricular activity, he organized and coached golf at Muscle Shoals High School.
Sam was a forceful person with a deep desire to affect positive change. In 1982, he founded The Shoals Talent Bank (formerly known as The Concerned Citizens) to honor Black leaders who had made outstanding contributions to the community. In his roles as charter member, polemarch and State officer for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., he implemented outstanding programs to help local youth. Sam initiated the formation of the Burrell-Slater Athletic Hall of Fame and served as its vice-president from its inception until his demise. In 2020, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Special Contributor.
Throughout his life, Sam suffered many health challenges and had over 40 surgeries, but he never complained. When asked how he was doing, his usual reply was, “As the old folks say, I’m doing tolerably well.” He never allowed his health issues to interfere with his work or community activities. After retirement, he continued to serve others through organizations such as the NAACP, the Alabama Democratic Conference and the Lauderdale County Health Initiative.
Sam passed away on December 28, 2021 at Mitchell Hollingsworth Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Florence, Alabama. He leaves to cherish his memory his loving and devoted Son, Sam Brewer, Jr. (Daphne), and Daughter Davala Caldwell (Dexter), Florence, AL; Grandsons Sam Brewer III and Tyrese Caldwell; Granddaughter Amiya Carter; Sisters Flora Arnett, Saginaw, MI., and Lillie Strong, Clinton, MD; and Brother Moses Brewer (Gwen), Centennial, CO., and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Visitation with the family will be Monday 6-8:00pm, Thompson and Son Funeral Home, Florence, Al.
Funeral service for Mr. Brewer will be 11 a.m., Tuesday, January 4, 2021 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Florence, AL., with Burial in Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Florence, AL. The public viewing will be Monday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thompson and Son Funeral Home, Florence, directing.
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