Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-04-04

Former Alabama Governor Albert P. Brewer was hailed as a respected attorney, teacher, scholar and "unifier" during dedication ceremonies for the new Martha F. and Albert P. Brewer Plaza at Samford University Friday, April 4.

The ceremony was held on the striking new plaza in front of Memory Leake Robinson Hall, which houses Cumberland School of Law. The site honors Brewer, who retired last year after teaching 20 years at Cumberland, and his late wife, who died in 2006.

"In a time of strife and turmoil in the state, Governor Brewer never bowed to the politics of demagoguery that at times reflected poorly on our state," Alabama Lt. Gov. James E. Folsom, Jr., said during the ceremony.

Folsom noted that while Alabama is known as a "red" or conservative state, it has a strong progressive tradition.

"Albert Brewer is the man who personifies that tradition," said Folsom of Brewer, who was elected Alabama lieutenant governor in 1966 and served as governor from 1968 until 1971.

Former lieutenant governor Jere Beasley called Brewer "a unifier" rather than a divider.

"He was one who brought people together. He had great vision," said Beasley, citing the tremendous work that Brewer did on behalf of the people of the state.

Beasley's daughter, Julie, had been in a Cumberland class taught by Brewer. "He had a tremendous effect on her as a Christian. He is one who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk," said Beasley, a Montgomery attorney.

Recent Cumberland graduate Candace Ellen Brannen Peeples recalled how welcome the late Mrs. Brewer made her feel during a dinner for students that the Brewers hosted at their home.

"They shared stories about Cumberland, the legal profession and life. His advice will be the most important I ever receive," said Peeples. "His lessons of doing good and always taking the high road will never be forgotten."

Cumberland dean John Carroll compared Brewer to English attorney and statesman Thomas More, "the patron saint of lawyers," calling him a great scholar, man of great wit, friend, family man and father.

"No one knows more about ethics and the code of law. He doesn't wear his faith on his sleeve, but wears it in his heart and lets it guide everything he does," said Carroll.

Brewer noted that he has taught more than 3,000 law students, who now practice all over the country and in other nations. "All are good citizens, and I'm proud of them," he said, adding that "Martha loved law students. She married one."

To have the plaza named in their honor gives him great pleasure, he said. Their hope for the plaza, he said, would be that law students use it to meet friends, make plans and build relationships.

A plaque was unveiled by Cumberland students Heath Brooks and Shannon Haynes, who are recipients of the Brewer Scholarship, established by the couple to assist deserving students.

The plaza was made possible by statewide contributions from a broad cross-section of people.

According to Cumberland advisory board chairman Scott A. Powell, the widespread warm feeling for the couple "made it easy to raise the funds" for the plaza, which surrounds an existing fountain and includes blooming plants and handsome brickwork.

The program also included remarks by Samford president Andrew Westmoreland, Cumberland professor T. Brad Bishop, Samford trustee W. Clark Watson, and Brewer's pastor, Mountain Brook Baptist Church minister James D. Moebes.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.