BY JACLYN ROSE –
Betty Brewer was born and raised in Polk County, while her husband, Pete, grew up in neighboring Montgomery County. The couple met when Betty was 16 years old. “Pete and I met by accident,” said Brewer with a grin. “Every Saturday my family would come to town and Pete came over and started joking with us. We started dating after that and married two years later on February 21, 1946. It’s important to become friends with the person you are going to marry. Because we dated for two years, we had plenty of time to get to know each other.”
A year or so after the couple married they moved to Dallas, Texas to find work. There, Pete began his career as a builder and spent 20 years building beautiful homes. Betty worked for the schools in Dallas for 20 years before retiring; however, their life’s work was something far greater than their separate careers.
The Brewer’s began their lives as foster parents while still living in Texas. “We have three biological children and when the youngest was 10 we felt called to become foster parents. When my husband became a Christian we knew God was calling us to mission work. One day while watching the TV, we saw a baby that was abandoned and placed in the foster system. I said, wouldn’t it be neat if we could help that baby. Forty-eight years later, we’ve had 504 foster children. Many of them stay in touch and come to visit and call,” explained Brewer.
The couple gave their lives to their calling as foster parents and was able to adopt four of the children they fostered. Though Brewer repeatedly reiterates that “God has blessed their lives so much,” serving children in the capacity they have, was not accomplished without hard work and some pain. “I wouldn’t trade the life we lived. I wouldn’t trade one minute I spent helping a child, but it is hard and if you are not called of God you are not going to be a foster parent for long. There was a time when we had two girls we thought we were going to adopt and their mother came back and the judge took the kids and gave them back to her and I thought, ‘I’ll never do it again,’ but when God calls you, you do it. I cried real tears when children would leave, it’s like losing your own kids,” explained Brewer.
The couple retired from their respective jobs in Dallas and moved back to Polk County in 1982. At the time they had one foster son with them and did not plan on taking on any more, but after several visits they were asked to serve as foster parents in the state of Arkansas. They then went on to serve 21 years in Polk County. Brewer also began a career at the Department of Human Services in Polk County, a position she worked in for 18 years. “I moved home to retire but instead I went to work for DHS and I loved my job. I really enjoy helping people; it is what I was meant to do with my life. And you know, each time a child would come in from a broken situation at home I would just think, ‘but by the grace of God, there goes I.’ I was blessed to have been raised in a wonderful Christian home with wonderful training and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything,” explained Brewer. Additionally, Brewer has been a church pianist at her church in Dallas for 20 years and then for 30 years at her current home church, Cove First Baptist.
“I would be a foster parent today if there were no age limits,” said Brewer with a smile. “My life has been full and long and I’m so thankful to have been able to touch the lives of so many children.”