By Teresa Ohlrich Johnson
Jay Brewer tries his best to fly under the radar by shunning the limelight and deflecting praise to others. Fortunately, his impressive volunteer resume prevents him from operating without his community’s detection and gives the Braunfels Foundation Trust the opportunity to recognize him as a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
A transplanted Texan, Jay and his mother moved from Mississippi to San Antonio in 1952. He graduated from Harlandale High School where he was a member of the National Honor Society and lettered in track and basketball. On his senior trip to Landa Park, the notion that he would one day spearhead the creation of New Braunfels’ first neighborhood historic district most assuredly never crossed his mind.
Jay attended San Antonio College and upon completion in 1957 joined the United States Marine Corps. Following his discharge from the Corps, Jay began a twenty-nine year career with the General Electric Company. As a sales counselor in the major appliance division in San Antonio Jay’s territory included New Braunfels. After several transfers, family issues dictated that Jay leave the corporate world, and he and his two children moved to New Braunfels in 1979 where he opened an appliance business on San Antonio Street and was active in the Downtown Merchants Association. In 1982, Jay married Susan Battenberg blended their families, sold his business, and joined a successful distributorship in San Antonio. In 1986, Jay rejoined GE and he and Susan moved to St. Louis, Missouri. After five transfers Jay retired in1998 and returned to the New Braunfels area. This move sparked a sense of community and ignited Jay’s impressive volunteer activities. Living at Canyon Lake for five years Jay became a board member and then president of the Canyon Lake Community Recreation Center which soon became the Community Resource and Recreation Center where he served as its first board President. He also served on the Advisory Boards of both the YMCA of Comal County and Greater San Antonio. He also served on the Tye Preston Memorial Library Capital Campaign.
Moving back into New Braunfels Jay became involved with the renovation of the Brauntex Theatre doing everything from small tasks to the major renovation, serving as President of the Board for five years and then as Chair of the Advisory Board. He currently serves on the boards of the Sophienburg Museum and Archives, New Braunfels Housing Partners, Hope Hospice Foundation and Hope Hospice where he served as President of both.
Brewer also served his city and county governments with appointments to the Comal County Historical Commission, the Comal County Communications Task Force, and participated in the inaugural class of the University of County Government. He served on the City of New Braunfels’ Wayfinding Committee, the Downtown Steering Committee, the Mayor’s Strategic Planning Committee, and as a member of the Castell Street Redevelopment Committee.
The Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce gave Jay their “Volunteer Service Award” and earlier this year Comal County Commissioners Court presented him with the “Jan Kennedy Key to the Courthouse” recognition. The Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce bestowed their “Chair of the Board Award” for Jay’s preservation efforts and in 2011 the coveted “Besserung” Award.
Members of First Protestant Church, Jay and Susan, are parents to Jaye Lynn, Michael, Nancy, and Katherine as well as the proud grandparents of seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The Braunfels Foundation Trust is proud to continue to keep Jay Brewer on our community’s radar by naming him a Living Legend of New Braunfels.