Albert Brewer, the former Alabama governor who forged a later career as a Samford University law professor and founder of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), died Jan. 2. He was 88.
Brewer served as governor from 1968 until 1971, and is recognized for achieving much-needed reforms and new programs for Alabama. He joined Samford in 1987 as Distinguished Professor of Law and Government, and helped Samford establish PARCA as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that studies issues of public interest affecting state and local government in Alabama.
“Samford University and the state of Alabama have lost a giant in the passing of Gov. Albert Brewer,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “He was loyal to the university, to his family, to his state and to his God, and was the epitome of a Christian gentleman. He served the university with distinction, as he did everything in life, and taught constitutional law to generations of students. I first met him when he served as cochair of the presidential search committee that brought me to Samford, and I have had no better friend and confidant.”
PARCA, located at Samford, filled a need that Brewer first discovered when he served in the Alabama legislature in the 1950s and ’60s.
“The proponents of a bill would come and talk to us—these are lobbyists—and then the opponents would come and talk to us, and they would give us their best case,” he told Samford’s Seasons magazine in 2006.
“You’d figure, well, the truth must be somewhere in between. It didn’t change when I became governor (1968–71). These were the only sources of information that we had, people who represented the interests that were involved.”
The situation remained that way until 1988, when Brewer joined then–Samford President Thomas E. Corts and a group of supporters to form PARCA, Alabama’s first independent, nonpartisan organization to provide information on governmental issues. Brewer served as PARCA’s first executive director and later as its chairman of the board, retiring in 2013.
Brewer also served as a member of the Samford board of trustees.
The former governor taught at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law for more than two decades. The law school honored Brewer and his late wife, Martha, by naming the newly designed plaza in front of its law school building Brewer Plaza in 2008.
Brewer’s administration as governor produced the largest appropriations increase for public schools in state history. He created the Alabama Development Office and introduced measures to economize the operation of state government.
Under Brewer, the Court of Appeals was divided into the Court of Civil Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals, the state Supreme Court was expanded by two judges, and the first Ethics Commission was created.
Brewer served on the executive committee of the National Governors’ Conference, and was chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, vice chairman of the Southern Governors’ Conference and chair of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
Over the years, Brewer was also a champion of state constitutional reform.
“He was the only governor we had who ever came close to being a ‘New South’ governor,” historian Wayne Flynt told the Associated Press.
Funeral services will be private. Arrangements are being handled by Ridout's Valley Chapel in Homewood.