Some Heroes Never Disappoint: A tribute to Bill Brewster

Oklahoma City – There is an old saying about never meeting your heroes for fear of being let down. I am sure there are many examples in which people can point to which would demonstrate this.

I have been fortunate to be able to not only meet many of the individuals who I have looked up to as a young man and tried to emulate with my career but to also develop friendships with many of them.

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with such a person who inspired me to public service and thank him. He is a hero who has never disappointed.

When I was starting out in public service in my early days at Oklahoma State University, I was contacted by Ashley Andrews Anthony, a friend from 4-H, about a volunteer opportunity for her boss, Congressman Bill Brewster, at the OSU Homecoming Parade.

As a political science major, I gladly jumped at the chance to help blow up balloons for kids and pass out literature in the parade. Later that day, I had the opportunity to meet the congressman and thoroughly enjoyed my visit with him and his wife, Suzie.

Through the years, I had several connections with “Mr. and Mrs. B” and their daughter, Karel, and grandson, Braxton. As they continued their work in Washington, D.C. and the Oklahoma Third Congressional District covering much of eastern Oklahoma, it not only led to more volunteer work but also connecting with newfound friends through campaign circles.

Following his time in elected office, he continued working on “the Hill” and lobbying, while staying connected in his home state. Part of that included supporting me in my run for office in 2002 and providing input, when asked, about legislation that might impact an area in which he was knowledgeable.

While our politics or take on issues might have been at times different, I never questioned the integrity or motivations of Congressman Brewster, nor his efforts to help those he served or represented. I am thankful that he also treated me as a friend, and a colleague and wanted to see me do well as I continued my service.

Last week, I had the opportunity to drive to Marietta, Oklahoma and spend time with the Brewster family. The time which I had visiting with them that evening and having the chance to thank Congressman Brewster once again for believing in me and supporting me meant a great deal.

If you have not taken the time to thank one of your mentors or someone who helped you through your early days, I suggest you take the time to do so as you never know how much time you will have. We often get too busy with our own lives to take that time to reflect and offer gratitude.

I would also encourage those in positions of influence to remember that the work they do is watched by many. Actions set an example for young people to follow, and many forget this, especially in public roles. You might not seek to be a role model, but it is inevitable that you will be for someone.

I would encourage them to follow the Brewster way with a life well lived, a reputation held with honor, and a family life that is an example for others. I am glad to have had this role model in my own life and hope to live up to that myself.

About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action, and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”