Deborah Brewster, pictured with her grandson Owen, leaves behind a legacy of community service. BENJAMIN MENDLOWITZ PHOTO

Brooklin Select Board member leaves long history of community service

BROOKLIN — If a person is measured by her dedication — to family, community, and self — then Deborah Brewster stood 10 feet tall. Brewster died at home in Brooklin on Aug. 26 and leaves a legacy of commitment, service and love behind. She was 71.

A member of the Brooklin Select Board from 2011 until April of this year, Brewster also served nine years as a George Stevens Academy trustee, and then returned years later. In all, she served 18 years on local school boards.

“Education is the future for our children, and, by extension, the future for us all,” Brewster said upon rejoining the GSA Board of Trustees in 2009, her friend and GSA Advancement Director Rada Starkey recalled.

“She is respected and admired for her commitment to the quality of local education,” Starkey added.

Fellow trustees agreed. “Deborah had a remarkable way of cutting through complicated scenarios and getting to the heart of the matter,” former trustee Marion Morris said. “She was never dismissive of other people’s ideas, yet her wry sense of humor shone through when conversations got a little too far off base.”

Rob Clapp, who served with Brewster as a GSA trustee and on the Blue Hill Memorial Hospital board, said Brewster was who he turned to for advice.

“She always had my back and she encouraged me when I was a new board member,” he said. “More importantly, Deborah always saw the big picture. For the hospital, she reminded us that we were there for the health of the community. For GSA, we were there to serve students, not the administration or teachers or public opinions.”

Brewster leaves behind husband Benjamin Mendlowitz, four children and three grandchildren, and many friends.

“I knew Deborah for some years before the night several of us plotted to have her sit next to Ben Mendlowitz, then a visiting photographer, at a large dinner — in hopes of igniting a spark,” Sherry Streeter recalled. “To our delight (and theirs for 36 years), it took! They were each other’s anchor and would sometimes cast off in different directions for work or play but always return to their mooring…She was very home- and community-centered and gave much of herself to both.”

“It’s important to recognize the totality of her dedication,” said Bill Cohen, who served with Brewster on the Brooklin Select Board. “Deborah had a unique ability to keep us moving forward, even during controversial items, but always with this warm, human touch.

“She was a healer, and so, so thoughtful of everyone’s views and perspective,” he added. “She was highly respected…as being a voice of reason, with good common sense and insight. We’ll try and behave that way going forward.”

A service for Brewster will be held on Sat., Sept. 25, at 1 p.m. at Flye Point in Brooklin.

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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