GREENVILLE — It’s Valentine’s Day, and love birds Donna and Dwight Brewer generally have much to celebrate this week…her 79th birthday on Feb. 15; his 80th birthday on Feb. 17; and their 62nd wedding anniversary on Feb. 18.
They were originally planning to celebrate with the family this coming Saturday. However, all the family will be gathering that day for a Celebration of Life for their youngest son-in-law, Steve Cunningham, who died Feb. 17 after a long battle with cancer.
Thus, the celebration of Valentine’s Day, their birthdays and anniversary will be rescheduled.
“Our Steven comes first,” said Donna. “We usually go out to eat at Sharp’s.”
Yes, the Brewers always celebrate with one big party and every so often it falls on Valentine’s Day, but not this year.
The couple said they did not get married on Feb. 18, 63 years ago, because their parents advised them to wait a year.
The couple met on a blind date set up by her former boyfriend, Johnny Flory. Flory made arrangements to take her to Ansonia High School for a play that was going to be held there.”
She thinks Flory was trying to get her to come back to him, but it didn’t work out that way.
“He took me to the old Ansonia High School, and told Dwight I was there,” Donna recalled. “I was sitting in the first row and the only one in there at the time and the curtain on the stage kept opening. Talk about feeling like meat in a meat case.”
Dwight and Donna hit it off, and were married later in Winchester, Indiana. Standing up for them were his parents, Donald and Margaret (Gerstner) Brewer, now deceased.
Today, the Brewers are married and the parents of five children; one son, Rick, deceased; and four daughters, Teresa Wilson, Candy Helm, Susan Mills and Larissa Cunningham. There are also 14 grandchildren —seven boys and seven girls — and numerous great-grandchildren.
Included in all of the Brewer celebrations is the Feb. 19 birthday of daughter Susan’s oldest granddaughter.
“Mom kept calling me the year she [the great-granddaughter] was born and said, ‘You know it’s my birthday and it sure would be nice if she would decide to come into this world’,” Susan recalled. “Dad’s birthday and their anniversary the same thing. Well the day after, she decided to come into this world. She will be 8 this year.”
Donna, daughter of the late Donald and Ruth Werts, said her family was of Piqua and later moved to Horatio, and she would have graduated from Gettysburg High School in 1956.
Dwight is a 1955 graduate of Ansonia High School, where he played football, basketball and track.
Donna worked on and off throughout their marriage, and he worked at Keller Grain and Feed twice and once for Fram.
The Brewers were also caretakers for the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Sidney for 10 years and he retired from Botkins Grain Terminal.
“There were a lot of headaches working on the fairgrounds, but we met a lot of people,” she said. “At fair time, our kids came and helped.”
“We turned down an offer for the Darke County Fair,” he said. “I was making more money in Sidney.”
According to Donna, they built a home on the other side of Port Jefferson around 2004 and came back to Darke County in 2011.
“Our health was going downhill and the kids wanted us to come back home,” said Donna, who had one brother, now deceased, and said she had one brother, and four sisters, three of Avondale, California, and one in Port Townsend, Washington. “I had cancer in 2001 and the day I was to start radiation, Dwight had open heart surgery.”
In their spare time, the Brewers did a lot of camping and horseback riding. He still rides horses some but she quit doing it because of her osteoporosis.
He still has one horse.
“I had horses all my life,” Dwight said. “I used to plow draft horses at home.”
What makes for a successful marriage?
“All the time we have been married, and if we had differences, we wouldn’t go to sleep until we had it ironed out,” he said.
“When we lived in Port Jefferson, we attended the Baptist Church and it seemed like we got so much closer. I can’t explain it…maybe because of the people there. One night before we went to sleep, and he said, ‘God bless,’ and now we tell each other that..”
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