Family Portrait – Joe and Barbara Brewer

Joe & Barbara BrewerBy Pat Edwards (from The Lorane Historian; Volume 1 Issue 1; October 1993)

Remember the marvelous, romantic scenes in the old war movies where, with the threat of war brewing, the hero was drafted into the military and on the eve of his getting shipped overseas, the couple scrapped their formal wedding plans in order to get married before he left to fight for his country?  Well, Joe and Barbara (Ostberg)  Brewer, with a couple of changes in the script, managed to live those scenes.  The date was December 3, 1951, and the war was the Korean conflict, already in progress.

Joe was drafted into the Army on January 3, 1951, and following basic training, he and Barbara became engaged.  Soon after, while she was visiting him in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and fearing that he would soon be “shipped out”, they decided to get married before she returned home to Coos Bay, Oregon.  As soon as they  were able to obtain a license, they“rousted out” the minister of a local Christian Church and were married.  In less than 3 weeks after Barbara’s return home, Joe was on his way to Korea to serve with the Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG).  He spent a full year there, bringing home the regulation hair cut that distinguished the South Koreans and Americans from the North Koreans.  It became Joe’s trademark.

Upon Joe’s return, he and Barbara made their home in Creswell while Joe went to work for Orchard Auto Parts in Eugene and Barbara worked for Gunderson Trucking doing inventory work.  In 1963, after several moves coinciding with the births of their four children, they decided to seek a permanent home in the country where their children, Cheryl (Cheri), Teresa (Terri), Jeff, and Sandra, could grow in a healthy environment.  They traded their town property for a home and 65 acres belonging to Arnold Kast where Mike and Linda Jenks presently live.  They then bought a 155-acre ranch from Harold Gates, later purchasing an additional 55 acres from Eldon Thompson.  This, their present home on Gowdyville Road, was built by George Schneider.  According to Barbara, “we found a newspaper dated 1887 underneath some wallpaper.  The front half of the house is the original part.  We don’t know when the back half was added.  Two back additions that were attached were offices from the Skelton-Mitchell Mill which were dragged here on skids.”  Other families who have lived in the house are: Joseph Schneider (1906-1920), Ernest Theuerkauf (mid-1930’s), Terry McCornack (early 1940’s), Paul Estergard, Ned Pasco, and Harold Gates.

Soon after their arrival in Lorane, Lucille Mitchell asked them if they would allow their children to attend the Lorane Church’s Vacation Bible School.  When the minister, Mr. Flemming, brought the kids home following their first day, he noticed Barbara’s piano.  When he discovered that she played, he asked her if she would be willing to fill in for his wife as the Church’s accompanist when they went on vacation.  Barbara agreed, and soon afterward, the Flemmings moved and Barbara has been playing the piano at the Church ever since, sometimes trading Sundays with the wives of some of its pastors.

Barbara relates, “we have been very happy with our choice of Lorane.  The people have been very friendly and helpful.  Some of the first people I recall meeting when we first arrived were Eldon Thompson and Oren Jacobson who were at our house several times helping during a flue or smoke scare.” And then there was Grace Thompson who supplied them with fresh milk and Hester Briggs who had fresh eggs to sell. Grace invited them to join the Lorane Grange.  They were eager to meet others in the community and to belong to an organization that the whole family could attend and were soon participating members.  They are still active in the organization.

Eldon Thompson was very helpful in advising them with veterinary and farm problems, even helping occasionally to pull calves having problems being born.  He baled their hay until they obtained their own equipment. “This community always pulls together when there is a need.  You can get as involved as you want here in a variety of causes.”  Their present neighbors include Vergil and Linda Hughes, Duane Coop, Russ and Alice Pellham, Frank Cataldo, and Bernard and Donna Moulton.
Joe, who is Lorane’s present Fire Chief, was involved early in life as a volunteer firefighter for the Marshfield Fire Department when he first met Barbara. Their concern for Lorane’s lack of fire and medical protection led them to join with others in forming the Lorane Volunteer and Emergency Fire Group in 1973.  Several volunteered to take training as First Responders from the Crow Fire Department.  Joe has kept up on his recertification in order to retain his First Responder level and Barbara has become an EMT I (Emergency Medical Technician). They both feel that it is very satisfying to know that all of the time and work that they put into training and practice has made a positive difference in the safety of the community.

In 1982, when the community voted to establish the Lorane Fire Department, Joe was one of its first board members along with Bruce McDonald, Larry Wilson, Walt Hayes, and Earl Kuskie.  Carl Wilson was the first Fire Chief, followed by Joe.

Joe retired after 34 years with Roberts Motor Co., Inc. in Eugene.  He and Barbara have 9 grandchildren including Tyler, Lindsey, Nichole, and Gregory Wilson; John and Christina Lay; Travis and Lacee Brewer; and Jessica Newton.

Joe and Barbara enjoy camping and fishing in the Central Oregon lakes. They’ve travelled to British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, and most recently, spent a week in Hawaii.  Their hobbies differ in that Joe likes to elk hunt and collect caps.  Music is Barbara’s favorite hobby, although she has recently begun collecting plates.  Their entertainment centers around family (“observing our grandchildren is sometimes great entertainment!”), and an occasional night out at the Hult Center is high on their list.

They both agree that the happiest events of their lives were their wedding, Joe’s return from Korea, and the births of their children.  The most traumatic for both was receiving the news that Barbara had a malignant breast tumor.  They have faced the storms of their life in the same way that they have delighted in the sunshine…together.  They each credit Barbara’s continuing “clean bill of health” to their positive attitudes and the prayers and support of all of those who offered them, and, most of all, their abundant faith in God.  With the proverbial “tongue in cheek”, Barbara stated that the next most traumatic event in their lives was the announcement of a pending farm audit from the IRS.

The Brewers’ sense of humor, friendliness, and willingness to contribute to their community have gained them a respect and a permanent place in the history of the area and in the hearts of the community.

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