SCA RACE WALKING
TRIBUTE TO BOB BREWER
It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my Southern California Strider teammate Bob Brewer in Elaine Ward's excellent Southern Cal Walkers newsletter. Bob died of cancer on July 31, 2007 and was fondly remembered as an enthusiastic walker of the "mid-80's."
What many people probably don't know is that Brewer was one of America's top race walkers in the mid-1960's, and he was really good. He was our 1965 AAU Junior National Champion at 30 kilometers (with a very fast 3:04:23 for the notorious Columbia, Missouri course and road-melting temperatures). Earlier that year, he placed third in the Senior National Championship in Los Angeles behind Ron Laird and Dick Ortiz and ahead of Don DeNoon with a 2:47:50 time. Bob placed second in the 1965 AAU Jr. 15 Kilometer Championship in Portland with a good 1:21:22 mark. The following year, while representing El Camino Junior College, he took seventh place in the 1966 AAU One Hour National Championship in San Diego with an impressive 7 miles, 399 yards mark.
But all of these marks and championships are misleading as they were in long races. Bob had blazing sprint speed despite his very legal race walking style. The Inglewood, California athlete routinely walked the mile in the mid-6:30's in Southern Pacific Association AAU meets and indoor invitationals. His best outdoor mark was 6:34 at a time when F.P. Murray's American record was just 6:29.6 and the goal of most of his top competitors was to break seven minutes.
This pioneer of race walking in Southern California was much more than an outstanding athlete. He was very well liked by everyone in the sport. More importantly, he was a wonderful father and family man who dearly loved his wife, Linda, and his two children, Jason and Amy. The Corona, California resident was also a popular Special Education teacher who was just one year away from retiring.
- Jim Hanley
FAVORITE BOB BREWER STORIES
The AAU Junior 30 Km. Championships were held in Columbia, Missouri on July 4, 1965. Despite some excitement before the meet, Bob won the race.
Bob wanted us to go on the July 1 Continental Airlines flight pictured below, but because of school demands I talked him to going the next day with me. As the old Kansas City Airport was located in a meander of the Missouri River, landing there was tricky and several crashes had occurred.
Bob was so upset at seeing this picture in the LA Times that he cancelled from our July 2 Continental Airlines flight and switched to TWA. Being a little superstitious myself, I stayed with Continental---which was also cheaper. Due to the wreckage blocking the runway in Kansas City, we were two of the very first people to land at the new Kansas City "Mid-America Airport" which was simply a runway in the middle of a cornfield at that time.
Passengers were bused from the cornfield back to the Kansas City Airport where we could see the crash. When I told my neighbor, a TWA employee, about Bob switching from Continental to TWA, he said,"That was a mistake. We've had three of our planes go down there."
- Jim Hanley
I loved Bob. It's been years since I saw him though and it once again brings the realization - you had better keep in touch with people who are important to you. I think he is the first of the old SoCal young RW gang from the mid-60s to go - am I right? Wow, What memories, and I only participated in it at the end. Walker, Hanley, Young, Bowman, Laird, DeNoon, Brewer, and the older guys, Kelley and Haluza . . . what a group, The sky seemed the limit for all of us. I've got a couple of Bob stories to share later.
- Martin Rudow
I remember Bob as a Great Legal Walker not like the walkers of now, Bob and I were always neck to neck in all our races, I will remember him as a great sportsman and gentleman, he was a credit to the Southern California Striders and the sport of Race Walking.
- Richard "Dick" Ortiz, Kansas
Bob could always enjoy a laugh at his own expense. Being originally from Oklahoma, and sometimes acting like it, was a source of amusement to Bob’s friends who would good-naturedly kid him about it.
Following is a story “on” Bob. You really had to be there, but I hope I can communicate it well enough for you readers to share the humor. It is the hardest I have ever laughed in my life, and I can still say that some forty years later.
One night in 1969 a bunch of us, including Jim Hanley, were at Ron Laird’s Pomona apartment looking at slides of recent walking races. One was of a race that had been held at Echo Park, once a popular venue for walks in L.A. We were all making wisecracks and laughing a lot. Up came a slide of Bob wearing a cowboy hat and looking a little goofy – probably it was after a hard race.
He was standing under the Echo Park sign. However, the slide was in backwards and so the sign arching right over Bob’s cowboy-hat-clad head was (say it out loud): KRAP OHCE.
- Martin Rudow
I remember Bob's account of winning that 30K. It was incredibly hot and there was minimal shade or assistance on the course. The finish was in a fairgrounds while a big community fair was going on. Bob came staggering into the fairgrounds, hardly able to tell where he was going, and was walking through crowds of festival-goers toward the finish line. He was going so slowly at that point that, as he told it, people walking around eating hot dogs and little kids eating cotton candy were going faster than he was. Finally his legs gave out and he had to turn around and WALK BACKWARDS through the crowd to make it to the finish line. All the time the p.a. announcer was going berserk, screaming: "Here come our new National Champion Bob Brewer from Los Angeles, etc. etc."
- Martin Rudow
I just returned after being away from the studio for a few days and was sorry to hear of Bob Brewers' passing. I remember him as a valued member of our Southern California Striders team and a fierce competitor. After not having any contact with him for many years, he called me in 2002 to congratulate me on my induction into the T&F Hall Of Fame. It was great to hear from him; we had a nice talk reminiscing about old times. My condolences to his loved ones.
- Larry Young