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Fitz Brewer made his mark on Southern Oregon

Fitzhugh Brewer, who built a life in Medford as a businessman, star athlete and community leader, died of cancer Thursday morning at the age of 78.

Brewer was a partner and vice president in a Medford investment firm that has since become Umpqua Investments. He was active in a variety of community organizations, including Providence Medford Medical Center, Rogue Valley Medical Center, the Rogue Valley Manor, Rotary and the Medford Linebackers.

A service has been set for 1 p.m. Nov. 13 at the First Presbyterian Church, 85 S. Holly St., Medford.

Known as Fitz, Brewer first rose to local prominence as a star football player for the Medford High School Black Tornado, where he was a three-year letterman, an all-conference defensive end and among the first Medford players to participate in the Shrine All-Star Game, playing in the second-ever Shrine game in 1949. He went on to play football at the University of Oregon.

"He was an icon ... a great man," said Dick Entinger, who worked with Brewer for 15 years as a financial planner at Strand, Atkinson, Williams & York, the predecessor to Umpqua Investments. Brewer joined the company as a partner in 1968 when it was Atkinson and Co.

Brewer came to Medford in 1931 at the age of 6 weeks. His father was a special agent for the California Oregon Power Co., overseeing its operations in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1953, Brewer was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and with his new wife, Ann, was shipped out to Germany for 18 months. He returned to Oregon to work for Crown Zellerbach and returned home in 1958 when the company transferred him to Medford.

Brewer's greatest passion was supporting Medford and Oregon Ducks sports. He and Entinger were co-chairmen of a fundraising effort to build an all-weather track at Spiegelberg Stadium on what is now the South Medford High School campus and he helped with sports-related projects at North Medford High School and the two Medford middle schools. He was a past president of the Medford Linebackers Club, which supports local school sports, served on the University of Oregon Foundation Board of Trustees and was an avid supporter of the Ducks' sports teams.

"They called him Super Duck," Entinger said. "He was very loyal to Medford and the University of Oregon. He was a great friend and a fierce competitor."

Lyn Hennion also worked with Brewer at the investment firm for 15 years and had worked with him for 10 years before that. She said even after he retired about five years ago, he "brought an energy to the office like nothing else."

"What I remember most about him was his enthusiasm, energy and great big heart," Hennion said. "He certainly was one of a kind."

Brewer's son, Mike Brewer, said his father "had a contagious enthusiasm for whatever he got involved in" and that enthusiasm extended to his hometown and region.

"He was a big ambassador for Medford and Southern Oregon. He really loved Southern Oregon and he was so proud to be from here," Mike Brewer said.

"Very rarely in life do you meet someone who goes through life at a 45-degree forward tilt," he added. "But that's what he did, all of his life."

In addition to his wife, Ann, and Mike, Brewer is survived by son Tom, daughters Libby Combs and Sue Watkins and a sister, Donna Hawk.

Bob Hunter is editor of the Mail Tribune. Reach him at bhunter@mailtribune.com.

Fitz and Ann Brewer Pennell photo