I was honored to have been chosen to be one of the speakers when Albert Brewer was honored at Cumberland School of Law in April. The “Brewer Plaza” is a fitting tribute to a man who has selflessly served the people of Alabama and the legal profession. The Plaza was named in honor of Governor Brewer and his late wife, Martha, and it’s a beautiful addition to the law school. Albert Brewer has been an exceptional leader in the State of Alabama. Albert served three terms in the Alabama Legislature, and was Speaker of the House during his third term. He won the 1966 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor without a runoff. Upon the death of Governor Lurleen Wallace on May 7, 1968, Albert became governor. As governor, he worked quietly to achieve several much-needed reforms and programs. During his administration appropriations for public schools received the largest increase in state history. He created the Alabama Development Office and introduced several measures to make the operation of state government more efficient. The Court of Appeals was divided into the Court of Civil Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the state Supreme Court was expanded by adding two additional justices during Albert’s time as governor. Also, the first Ethics Commission to promote honesty and integrity in state government was created.
Albert Brewer was recognized as an effective leader by national organizations. He served on the Executive committee of the National Governors’ Conference, was chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, vice-chairman of the Southern Governors’ Conference and chairman of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Authority.
When Martha and Albert Brewer moved to Birmingham in 1987, it marked the last stop in their journey together which began in 1950 on the campus of the University of Alabama. Their life together would take them to the pinnacle of success in the legal profession, in public office, and in the academy with side ventures into banking and other interests. Though they dined with the nation’s leaders at the White House and socialized with captains of business and industry, they never forgot the masses of people whom they claimed as friends and felt privileged to serve. And Cumberland School of Law was a wonderful finale to their life together. The Brewers loved the law students, enjoyed traveling with them on study-abroad programs in Great Britain, and having them in their home where Martha tried to be their “mom away from home.” My daughter, Julia, was one of Albert’s students and she is now one of his biggest fans. It meant much to Martha and Albert to establish a scholarship fund to provide need-based aid to deserving students.
Martha and Albert were strong in their faith and were grateful to God for blessing their marriage with two wonderful daughters, two fine sons-in-law, three grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. Martha and Albert were devoted to each other beyond measure with a love that was obvious to anyone who saw them together. Truly made for each other, they shared their love with all who knew them. I have often wondered what Alabama would be like today had Albert Brewer served a full ten years as Governor of our state. I can only say that our state would have been better because of his service!
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