Leslie C. Brewer

BAR HARBOR and Portland

Leslie C. Brewer, 97, died Aug. 23, 2019, at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. He was born the son of C. Leslie and Annie W. (Ahlblad) Brewer on April 22, 1922, in Bar Harbor.

Leslie devoted his life to his family, to the town and island he loved, to the parish of St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church and to College of the Atlantic. A native of Bar Harbor, he was recently a resident of Portland.

Leslie passionately believed in the value of education and the opportunities that education creates for individuals and their communities. He found joy in collaborating with others to create and sustain institutions that open doors to self-discovery, innovation and improving the quality of life. He believed that everyone deserves a chance — or many chances — to succeed in their chosen endeavors. His family and friends will remember Leslie for his patience, love, generosity and countless instances of kindness and caring.

In addition to co-founding College of the Atlantic, he was instrumental in creating Mount Desert Island Regional High School, improving MDI Hospital, building Birch Bay Retirement Village, enhancing the Bar Harbor Historical Society, enabling the Village Improvement Association to undertake and complete numerous restoration projects and supporting the Bar Harbor YMCA. He served continuously on Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island government committees and in elected offices from 1955 to 1991. He was a lifelong member of the parish of St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church, where he served on the vestry, as treasurer and as junior and senior warden. He was an active member of the board of trustees of College of the Atlantic for 50 years and attended every graduation from the first in 1972 to the 47th in 2019. He looked forward every year to attending the presentations of graduating seniors and hearing about their research and projects.

He grew up with sisters Dorothy and Charlotte in a modest house on Michigan Avenue next to Kebo Garage, which was owned and operated by his father. Every summer Kebo Garage serviced dozens of cars used by wealthy summer families while their chauffeurs boarded next door in the Brewer family house. In 1947, Leslie led a crew of fraternity brothers from Beta Theta Pi at the University of Maine in Orono to fight the devastating forest fire that threatened the entire town of Bar Harbor. The crew stopped the fire from engulfing Kebo Garage, located at the edge of a densely built neighborhood.

As a boy and young man he worked with his father in Kebo Garage and with his grandfather in F.J. Brewer & Sons Electrical, a family business that had evolved from wiring intricate bell systems used in summer cottages for summoning servants to wiring seasonal and year-round homes for electricity.

He attended local schools and graduated from Bar Harbor High School in 1940 as class valedictorian. He was a member of the Class of 1944 at the University of Maine (Orono) and received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1947 after serving three years in the US Army Signal Corps in World War II.

Leslie was stationed at the Paris Repeater Station and became commanding officer before the end of his service in Europe. He received the Bronze Star and Ribbon of Commendation while on active duty in France. He was recalled during the Korean Conflict and in total served over six years of active service and an additional number of years in the U.S. Army Reserve. He retired in 1963 as a major in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

In 1947, Leslie married Barbara Jean Dickson at All Saints Episcopal Church in Worcester, Mass. They returned to Bar Harbor, where he managed F.J. Brewer & Sons Electrical until he sold the business in 1983. He was a partner with Charles W. Sawyer Jr. in C.E. Marcyes Real Estate & Insurance from 1960 to 1985, built and managed The Golden Anchor Inn, 1968 to 1983, and founded and operated MDI Data Associates, 1984 to 2002. He also served as a director of the First National Bank of Bar Harbor from 1962 to 1992.

In 1968, his Bar Harbor High School classmate, Father James Gower, asked him to help found a peace college, which in 1969 became College of the Atlantic, the first college to grant Bachelor of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees in human ecology. Human ecology is the study of the relations between humans and their natural, cultural, built and technological environments. It is a philosophy of education that is interdisciplinary, action-oriented, value-driven, and that puts students in charge of their own education. Today, Gower and Brewer are considered co-founders of College of the Atlantic, which has graduated more than 2,700 students.

Leslie C. Brewer is survived by his sons, Leslie C. Jr. of Bar Harbor, Alan D. of Portland, his grandchildren, Leslie C. Brewer III and Eric B. Brewer of Bar Harbor, Caroline A. Odlin-Brewer of South Portland and Natalie Brewer of Bar Harbor, a niece, Nancy E. Ladd, of Cumberland and nephews, Gordon I. Erikson Jr. of Cumberland, Carleton B. Erikson of Castle Rock, Colo., and E. Tyler Proctor III of Bar Harbor, grandnephews Daniel P. Erikson of Washington, D.C., Edward G. Erikson of Brunswick, Thomas A. and Peter E. Ladd and grandnieces Abigail D. Erikson, Meleena A. Sheffler, Elizabeth E. Proctor, a daughter-in-law, Karine T. Odlin of South Portland, his friend and companion, Margot Cliff of Portland, and many friends residing at The Cedars in Portland.

Services will be held 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church, followed by a reception at Gates Auditorium on the campus of College of the Atlantic. A private graveside service for family will be held at Hillside Cemetery in Hulls Cove.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden St., Bar Harbor. Arrangements by Jordan-Fernald, 1139 Main St., Mount Desert.