A tribute to Billy Brewer, my friend, my coach, my fishing teacher, my hunting teacher, my Sunday school teacher, my second Dad, my insurance man, my mentor, and many, many more. What an honor it was to know him and have him as my friend so many years.
When I was 9 or 10, I met Billy as my Sunday school teacher at Westside Baptist Church; he handed me a Sunday school book the first day in his class and told me to be prepared to teach the lesson the following Sunday. Oh man, what in the world has this man done to me; I was so nervous I think I could have threaded a sewing machine while it was running. Needless to say, I did my best the following Sunday and Billy helped me through it, and that is my first memory of Billy and how we became best friends. I don't remember how well I did that day but, from the way Billy praised me, I must have done an awesome job that morning. I think that is the day that Billy took me under his wing and began to mentor me.
He invited me to play softball for the church, and I accepted. Billy was the coach of the church team, and we had a great team because we had a great coach. We had the best of the best. I would have followed Billy anywhere, as I believed in him.
Billy would come by my house every Friday night just before dark and pick me up from my mom and dad's on Griffin Street and take me coon hunting with his uncle Lawrence and Buddy Brabham. Billy would let me use his flashlight, his rifle and anything else he had; he did not have a selfish bone in his body.
Billy had two coon hunting dogs, a male named Joe and a female named Dolly. I loved those dogs more than anything in the world, at the time. Billy and I painted the dogs' names on the red dog box that sat on the back of Billy's truck at all times. I remember losing Dolly one Saturday night in Manchester while hunting. Billy said he would just leave his coat on the ground in the woods and he would come back the next morning, which was Sunday, and Dolly would be on the coat waiting for us. Billy came by and picked me up early that next day, Sunday, before church, and we drove out to where Billy left his coat. Sure enough, Dolly was lying on his coat when we got there. I was amazed, and I thought Billy could do anything.
Billy and Nancy would let me stay at their house on most Friday nights, and they gave me my own room. We would get up on Saturday mornings, and Billy would take me fishing down at Pack's Landing. He and I would fish all day for catfish and stripers.
I remember being at Westside Baptist on the day Billy's mom had a heart attack. I remember it like it was yesterday - as I felt so bad for Billy, even when I was too young to understand it all.
I remember when I got my driver's license; I would go to Billy's house on Friday and wait for him to get home from working at BL Montague's. We both had CB radios, and I would have my ear glued to the sound, waiting to hear Billy (Gator, call sign) call me on the radio. That call would sound something like this: "Hey Hammerhead, you out there, this is Gator." Not sure where I got that call sign, but it kinda fit me then and maybe now as well. When I got that call, I knew we were going hunting. As I would sit and wait for Billy to get home, I can remember his dad, JJ, driving around the corner on Pipkin Road with that 18-wheeler, gas tanker, truck.
There are so many more things that Billy did that inspired me, many, many more, but there is not enough space and ink to write them all down. Never will you meet a man like Billy who faithfully lived his values and taught them to others. He taught by example. Billy never let me, or anyone else, down. His word was his bond and everyone knew it.
Billy, my friend, you will be missed. But, I will never forget you or all the things you did for me. You will forever live in my heart. Goodbye for now, for I know we will meet again.