Man killed by tree remembered as exceptional person, artist

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2012

By Sarah Campbell and Mark Wineka
ROCKWELL — A 65-year-old man who died Tuesday after being pinned beneath a fallen tree near Rockwell was a skilled woodcarver despite having Parkinson’s disease.
Terry Brewer, of 720 Poplar Post Lane, was dead when emergency responders reached him in woods at the end of Hilbert Road, off Holshouser Road near Shive Elementary School.
Kevin Holshouser, assistant chief of the Rockwell Rural Fire Department, said Brewer and his wife were at 705 Hilbert Road, where the residents had given Brewer permission to cut down a tree on their property for firewood.
Brewer went into the woods about 11 a.m., Holshouser said. When his wife and the homeowner realized around noon they no longer heard his chainsaw, they went to check on Brewer and found him beneath the tree.
Holshouser said it was a “rather large” tree that fell on Brewer.
“He was cutting a standing tree,” he said. “It appears he intended the tree to fall forward. I don’t know what happened. It could have been the wind.”
The property where the accident occurred is about 5 miles from the Brewers’ home.
Exceptional person, artist
Several years ago, local artist Janet Isenhour had persuaded Brewer to enter his woodcarvings into the SilverArts show for seniors.
He usually took home some of the top prizes. He also won competitions through the VA Medical Center.
“He did unbelievable woodcarvings, just unbelievable,” said SilverArts coordinator Phyllis Kluttz-Loflin. “For the last few years he’s represented Rowan County at the state SilverArts level.
“He’s also just an exceptional person, everyone loved him.”
Brewer operated out of his home wood shop. He often carved scenes, such as fish jumping over driftwood or birds on branches.
“They were just beautiful,” Isenhour said. “He sold a number of pieces.”
Tony Brewer, Terry Brewer’s only son, said his father started woodcarving after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
“It’s amazing he could carve such beautiful things with the shaking the Parkinson’s gave him,” he said. “Most of the time people would think his pieces were actual fish that were mounted and that would make him the proudest. He would just wow people.”
Brewer loved the outdoors, especially fishing, which he often did with Tony.
“My fondest memory is fishing with him,” Tony said. “We used to fish all the time when I was little and the last few years we fished a lot together.”
But Isenhour said it wasn’t uncommon for Brewer to take off at 6 a.m. by himself, to fish at a secluded pond in the woods.
“He spent a lot of time by himself,” Isenhour said.
Family and service
Through marriage, Isenhour and Brewer shared a granddaughter. For a time, Isenhour’s son also worked and traveled with Brewer as they built communication towers across the country.
“He was very family oriented,” Isenhour said. “He loved his family very much and adored his grandchildren. He also was one of the hardest working people I have ever known.”
Tony Brewer said family was always important to his father, but it became even more important later in life.
“Growing up, he worked so hard so much that he wasn’t around as much as he would have liked, but after he retired and was put on disability for his Parkinson’s, everybody got to see him a whole lot more,” he said.
It was typical for Brewer to be working, as he was Tuesday when the accident happened, Isenhour said.
“Anything he could do for somebody, he would do it,” she said.
Tony Brewer said his father had a heart for service, joining the U.S. Army and fighting in an artillery unit.
“He was just a really good guy,” he said. “He’ll be missed very much.”
Brewer will have a SilverArts entry in the wood-carving category this week, if Isenhour can help.
Entries are supposed to be delivered to the Salisbury Civic Center today, so judging can happen Thursday and the show and awards can take place Friday.
Brewer planned to enter an eagle’s head he had carved, but in recent days, he was still sanding and had only pencil marks for where he planned to paint in feathers.
As she held it, Isenhour realized Brewer still faced considerable work to get it finished by Wednesday.
Brewer’s family asked Isenhour, who visited the home Tuesday afternoon, to see if she could work a minor miracle and have the eagle ready for the competition.
“I’m going to try and finish it for him,” she said. “… He was just a delightful person.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.