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Powell, WY

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Former Park County Sheriff Bill Brewer dies

Bill Brewer, a Powell native who served Park County as its sheriff and as a county commissioner, died Saturday.

Brewer, 76, died due to heart complications, according to his family.

He served as Park County sheriff from 1973-86 and again from 1991 until his retirement in January 2003.

Brewer also served on the Park County Commission from 2007-10. He was vice chair in 2008 and chair in 2009.

He was in poor health while serving on the commission, said Commission Chairman Bucky Hall. Still Brewer passed on before his time, Hall said, and devoted most of his life to the community.

“Basically he spent pretty much his whole adult life as a public servant,” Hall said.

Brewer graduated from Powell High School in 1957 and then pursued a degree in law enforcement at Northwest College.

His four-decade long career in law enforcement started with the Powell Police Department in 1960. At that time, becoming a police officer meant taking an oath, being given a badge and a gun, and “on the job training” was all that was available, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

Brewer worked for the Powell Police Department until 1964 when he decided to join the Wyoming Highway Patrol. His first posting was in Cheyenne, which he admitted he did not enjoy due to the constant wind.

In the fall of 1968, he was transferred to Thermopolis, a posting that he preferred much more than Cheyenne. After repeated offers by then-Sheriff Harley Kinkade to work for him as a deputy in Park County, Brewer decided to accept a posting in Powell in April 1969 as undersheriff.

After working as undersheriff for three and one-half years, he moved up one rung. On Christmas Eve, 1972, Sheriff Kinkade retired and asked the commissioners to appoint Brewer sheriff. At 34, Brewer became one of the youngest Wyoming sheriffs up until that point.

He served as sheriff for 12 years until he lost the Republican primary to a friend and co-worker who was running against him. Deputy Dan Hodge was on the ballot as an independent, and won the general election.

Brewer was forced to find another line of work after 25 years in law enforcement. While waiting for the chance to run for re-election, he sold cars for a local dealership in Powell.

In 1991, voters returned Brewer to office where he served another 12 years.

Brewer was instrumental in the consolidation and integration of local law enforcement agencies in the county. He was credited with implementing Park County’s first 911 emergency calling systems, as well as the first law enforcement teletype system in the county.

Brewer also played an integral part in organizing and outfitting the Search and Rescue units in Powell and Meeteetse, and was responsible for procuring the county’s first Search and Rescue airplane.

For his efforts in leading Wyoming law enforcement in the integration of technology, Brewer received Wyoming’s Officer of the Year award from the Wyoming Sheriff’s Association in 1981. Brewer also organized and implanted Park County’s first SWAT response team, which was an integral part of bringing suspects to justice during the widely publicized Silver Dollar Bar shooting in 1983 in Cody.

“Bill Brewer was well-respected within the community,” said Sheriff Scott Steward. “He was an outstanding citizen, dedicated public servant and wonderful friend, and he will truly be missed.”

Brewer is survived by his wife, Janet as well as seven children and 14 grandchildren. A complete obituary can be found online here.

A memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Cody Cattle Company, 1910 Demaris St., on the west strip in Cody. A law enforcement processional in Brewer’s honor will form at Ballard’s Funeral Home at 10 a.m. and proceed through the city to the Cody Cattle Company immediately prior to the service.

Citizens wishing to pay their respects are asked to do so during this processional. Donations may be made in Brewer’s name through Pinnacle Bank in Cody.

Hall expressed his sympathies to Brewer’s family.

“I hope they’re holding up OK,” he said.

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