The Seward community is mourning the death of “Hot Rod” Todd Brewer, who demonstrated his love for his community during his time as Seward schools’ activities bus driver and as their unofficial photographer.
Brewer, 52, died earlier this month from complications due to COVID-19.
Many remember Brewer for his “dad jokes” and for his announcement of “Welcome to Seward High, where all the kids are above average,” whenever pulling into the school’s driveway.
“Our bus trips are going to feel a bit empty for a while. There will be gyms with a little less Seahawk pride in them. There will be those of us who have traveled thousands of miles with Todd who at some point took for granted the fact that we never had to worry about our safety on the roads no matter the conditions,” wrote Seward schools’ Activities Director Al Plan in a Facebook post. “There are people who are in a community that you tend to forget the positive impact that they have on it and in it until they are gone.
“Todd always watched out for the kids when he was transporting teams to events. He would always stick around and take pictures for the school to post on their team pages, or yearbook etc… such a loss,” wrote Wendy K Martin Rogers on Facebook. “I always trusted my kids were safe when he was driving them all over the state.
As of Dec. 10, a GoFundMe organized by Jodi Kurtz had raised $4,735 to help with Brewer’s medical and other expenses.
“Todd, I doubt you remember me but 3 years ago you were one of the first people I met when I moved here,” wrote Victoria L Coleman, who donated to the fund. “You gave me a tour of the city and your kindness and sense of humor stuck with me.”
“You are so loved, Todd!” wrote Laura Beck, who also donated. “Your dedication to the community of Seward, especially to our students, who you have kept safe on the millions of Alaskan miles you have driven over a decade.”
When he wasn’t shuttling Seward students to and from activities, Brewer was pursuing his love of photography, which Seward High School Principal Trevan Walker said Brewer would share free of charge with students and their families.
“One of the habits he got into, particularly as kids were graduating, is that he would go through the whole archive and history of the photos he’d taken and gift the parents jump drives with hundreds of photos that he’s captured of those kids over the course of their middle school and high school careers,” Walker said. “Of course, those jump drives were absolutely invaluable in terms of memories that those photographs contained.”
Walker also remembered Brewer printing out some of his photos as glossy 8x10s and leaving them on the trophy case for students to view and keep.
“Between the three schools — high school, middle school activities and elementary field trips — he touched the life of every Seward student from kindergarten through 12th grade for the last 10 years,” Walker said. “He loved Seward kids and he loved driving for them.”
“Thank you for being so amazing Todd, I’ll cherish my volleyball and basketball pictures forever,” wrote Riley von Borstel on Facebook.
Walker, who called Brewer as his “go-to guy,” remembered fondly a Carhartt jacket embroidered with a school bus and flames that was gifted to Brewer by students, which Walker said Brewer wore “every single day.”
“He was more proud of that coat than I think anything else,” Walker said.
On Nov. 30, Seward High School posited a picture of a card that members of the community could sign for Todd while he was in Anchorage.
“They are going to need a much bigger card!” wrote Jamie Fredrickson.
Brewer died on Dec. 3, 2020 from complications due to COVID-19. According to a Dec. 9 press release from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Brewer never regained consciousness after being intubated.
“He was the Seahawks’ biggest fan,” the release says. “His gentle nature, expertise behind the wheel and camera lens, and the unending love for the students he served will be greatly missed.”
A celebration of life for Brewer will be held at the Resurrection Bay Baptist Church in Seward on Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. Services will be held in person and will also be livestreamed on Resurrection Bay Baptist Church’s Facebook page.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.