Grant Brewer, 25, of Richmond, Virginia, passed away unexpectedly on September 7, 2023, after suffering complications from a chronic illness. The sudden end of his journey at such a young, vibrant age came as an absolute shock to family, friends and loved ones, of whom there were many.
It seems inadequate to try and define a whole life — even one so brief — in what amounts to just a paltry handful of words but know this: Grant was a deeply beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend. He was born Jan. 24, 1998, at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, and spent his first three years there. Big life decisions brought the family back to their hometown of Hampton. Growing up there, Grant was a mischievous, rambunctious child who wasn’t afraid to test boundaries. He was sweet, to be sure — his mother Ashley’s little bumblebee — but all boy through and through.
Those curtains of rambunctiousness eventually parted. But even before they did, it was clear that at his core Grant was — much like Ashley and his father, David — a creative soul with an inquisitive mind. In elementary school, he was already winning Virginia state honors in art. He turned out to be multi-talented, as comfortable captaining the swim team at Smithfield High School as he was performing under the spotlight at the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk and the Smithfield Little Theatre.
He chased his creative dreams in college. After a less-than-fulfilling year at Longwood University in Farmville, Grant set his sights on the more stimulating environs of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He thrived there, but not without complications. Early on at VCU, the onset of a stubborn chronic illness dealt a serious blow to his health and threatened to derail his education. Fortunately, Grant was stubborn, too, and rallied.
He graduated from VCU in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media studies. Even as his health problems smoldered, freelance graphic design work eventually blossomed into a job as a communications and graphic design manager. Need proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? and David is a graphic designer, too.
Creativity wasn’t just a career choice for Grant, it was a way of life. In addition to graphic design, he loved film photography and processing, restoring vintage furniture, and taking apart old tech and appliances. He refused to be bored.
By all accounts, he was smart, funny, kind, good-natured and resilient. He was well read and loved engaging in deep conversation. He expressed his strong, well-formed opinions about society and culture articulately, but without preaching. He recognized failure not as a place to stop and give up, but as a foundation on which to learn and grow. Grant had diverse, adventurous taste in music, and peppered his playlists with songs by John Prine, Brian Eno, Kendrick Lamar and Big Thief. He lived on his own terms, very much his own person. But if you have the good fortune to know his mother and father, you know their better angels burned bright within him, too.
He maintained a strong bond with his younger brother, Forest, himself a young man nearing high school graduation. Though Grant and Forest shared some similarities — swimmers, tall, considerate, handsome — they were unmistakably different. Even so, that sibling connection, so mysterious and enviable to those of us who grew up without one, was always evident between them. It glowed.
Grant had recently moved into a new place with his girlfriend, Taylor — the love of his life. They lived with their pet dogs, Hank and May, pet rats, Claude and Edgar, and a well-tended plant collection. They loved being surrounded by the vibrance of living things, and brought each other much joy, warmth and laughter. Their threads, their journeys, were just beginning to intertwine into something new and beautiful.
Perhaps in part because he was always waging a quiet, uncomplaining war with his illness, Grant had grown wise beyond his 25 years, with the kind of perspective some of us don’t reach until much later in life. “As much as I love good work,” he said on his website, “I love the process of making it even more.”
His life was one still in process — an unfinished journey. And though that journey came to an abrupt, unimaginably sad end, perhaps we can find some comfort in the knowledge that for Grant, the journey was always more important than the destination anyway.
Grant is survived by his parents, David and Ashley (Smith) Brewer; brother, Forest Brewer; grandparents, Mike and Teri (Kammerdiener) Brewer, and Barbara Toney (Honorary); aunts, uncles and first cousins, Blake (Smith) and Rick Kowalczyk, Lantz and Lauren Smith with Alex, Vickie (Brewer) and Jim Tremblay with Joe, Matt, Catie, Mike and Libby. He is predeceased by grandparents Bill and Dudley (Powers) Smith, and Aubrey Toney (Honorary).
A celebration of Grant’s life will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, September 15, 2023 at Weymouth Funeral Home, 12746 Nettles Drive, Newport News, Virginia 23606, with a reception to follow at the home of David and Ashley, in Carrollton, Virginia 23314. All are welcome.