Dillard Eugene Brewer died at the age of 87 in Manchester, Conn., on July 13, 2014, but he lived his life as a man after God’s own heart.
Gene served earnestly as the minister for the Manchester Church of Christ from its founding in 1961 until his retirement in 2004. He was married 56 years to Barbara Christine Anthony Brewer, his partner in life, who was known by many as a longtime teacher at Bowers Elementary School.
Together, Gene and Barbara raised five daughters and served as parents, friends, counselors and inspirations to hundreds of people with whom they selflessly shared their love and lives.
Gene was born on March 24, 1927, the fifth and youngest child of Lewis Dillard and Rose Etta McMinn Brewer, farmers in Chandler, Okla. In 1944, Gene graduated from high school as the valedictorian of his class.
Prior to graduating, Gene took over full-time preaching responsibility when the local preacher went to work in a factory at the onset of World War II.
After high school, Gene attended the University of Oklahoma, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1947.
Despite completing a degree in business, Gene felt called to serve the Lord, and he set aside his business aspirations and took a full-time preaching position in Moore, Okla. Desiring a more intimate understanding of the original languages of Scripture, Gene pursued a degree in Bible at Abilene Christian College in Texas while preaching in Stamford, Texas, ultimately graduating with a master’s degree in 1961.
Gene’s academic disposition and love of biblical languages, hermeneutics and real-world application for everyday people yielded a life of virtually indefinable value to those who knew him — including years of provocative, soul-piercing Bible study curricula; scores of life-changing books, articles and sermons; countless hours of advice, counseling and mentoring; and a heart for Jesus that revealed the love of God in every word expressed.
Notwithstanding his diligence as a student, Gene took notice of Barbara Anthony while attending OU and worshipping at the congregation where Barbara’s beloved father was an elder. Gene and Barbara married June 25, 1948.
While Gene was preaching in Oklahoma, Barbara gave birth to Rebecca Jean (Brewer), Ann Marie (Brumley), Janet Kathleen (Stice), and Susan Elizabeth (Yeats). Eventually, Gene and Barbara had their fifth daughter, Jennifer Elain (Blake), after Gene began preaching in Manchester. Without a doubt, these six women were the joy of Gene’s life. Barbara was Gene’s soul mate, an indispensable partner in his lifetime of ministry — and the secret of his success. And he loved her unconditionally until the day he died.
A feminist out of necessity, Gene found a way to put all of his daughters through college, performed their marriages to wonderful Christian men, loved their 11 children and basked in their life-long devotion to him as “Daddy.” Indeed, his greatest earthly pleasure was knowing that each of his daughters was a faithful follower of Jesus.
No description of Gene’s life would be complete without acknowledging his love for the people of the Manchester Church of Christ, both past and present.
While we frequently speak of Gene’s ministry in terms of “dedication” and “sacrifice,” he viewed his work as a gift — one that he gave and one that he received. While we felt that he changed our lives, he felt you changed his — enriching it, giving him purpose and allowing him to share in your glorification of God.
His final wish is the same as his first — for you to love God with all your heart and all your soul, all the days of your life.
Gene was predeceased by his wife Barbara, his daughter Rebecca, and his siblings Edward Brewer, Bertha Dean, Vivian Brewer, Clarence Brewer, and Ruby Williams.
Gene is survived by his daughters Ann and her husband Doyce Brumley, Janet and her husband Philip Stice, Susan and her husband Gary Yeats, and Jennifer and her husband Kent Blake.
Gene is also survived by his grandchildren Jenny Callahan Head, Lacey and Kylie Callahan, Chad and Todd Brumley, G.T. Stice, Jordan, Natalie, and Haylie Yeats, and Drew and Kelly Blake.
He is also survived by his great-grandchildren Peton and Marley Brumley as well as our close family friend, Leroy Washington.