Men shaking hands, woman looking on to the scene.
Jim Brewer accepts congratulations from Ellen and Jamie Black during a surprise reception in Brewer’s honor at the Loudonville Lions Club Center. (Photo by Tom Puskar)

LOUDONVILLE — As a weekly newspaper editor, Jim Brewer has written thousands of stories about people being honored for their various contributions to the Mohican area community.

The tables were turned on July 20, when nearly 100 community members, friends and family gathered for a surprise reception to honor Brewer for his more than five decades reporting on the local community for the Loudonville Times and daily publications in Ashland, Wooster and Mansfield.

Loudonville native Kim Elliott Nowels and community leader Mike Bandy spearheaded the event not only to honor the efforts of Brewer, 75, but also to celebrate the profound value of local journalism in small towns. There were tributes along with a video interview with Brewer.

“There is value in Jim Brewer’s work that went beyond the words and images – it has heart and soul as well. That’s something in short supply these days as more and more of what’s covered in many ‘local’ papers is determined by faraway players,” said Nowels, a 1972 LHS grad whose career has centered around agricultural journalism and marketing.

“With so much of our media and entertainment springing from big cities, the faith, strength, courage, and work ethic of small-town America is often overlooked or discounted.”

By Nowels’ estimate, Brewer has written more than 30,000 stories about life in Mohican country over his 50-plus years of reporting.

Brewer’s daughter, Jen Portz, said it sometimes was tough growing up as the daughter of the newspaper editor “because everyone knew who my dad was.”

But she appreciated the way he could balance running four kids to various practices and sporting events, and also covering many of those events for the paper.

In addition to his newspaper duties, Portz cited her father’s many local philanthropic efforts. She was especially proud of his stint on Village Council when it decided in 1983 to build the village swimming pool. She spent the summers of her youth at the pool, as a mom took her kids to the pool, and now her son works at the pool.

Portz is one of Brewer’s and wife Sharon’s four children.

Tammy Kline, a longtime co-worker in the Times and Shopper office, shared several humorous stories about her time working with Brewer. But she turned serious and struck on a common theme of the evening.

“Jim writes from here,” pointing to her heart. “And that is what we want in a small town, is to write from your heart. What more can you do than that? He tells the story and gets the news across.”

Ted Daniels, retired editor of Ashland Times-Gazette, said journalism is often referred to as writing the first draft of history. By that account, he said, Brewer has covered nearly a quarter of Loudonville’s 209-year history, and edited the Loudonville Times for a third of its 144-year history.

“A newspaper is an essential thread in the community’s fabric. When the local news source is missing, that fabric frays. Thanks to Jim’s efforts, he has made Loudonville’s community fabric stronger for more than 50 years,” Daniels said. Brewer offered a brief response.

Brewer noted he had lots of help over the years.

“I didn’t do anything by myself,” Brewer said. “I want to especially thank Jon and Sally Truax.”

The Truax duo were his business partners when they purchased The Loudonville Times in 1972.

Ironically, following Gannett’s closure of the Loudonville Times-Shopper in March, Brewer is now writing for the new Loudonville Mohican Shopper’s Marketplace, published by their son, David Truax.

Brewer also credited legendary LHS journalism teacher Marjorie Robinson with encouraging him to start writing for the Times in1964 as a sophomore, covering football games. He also mentioned two other outstanding teachers John Gess (who was present) and Fred Boston, who both helped shape his understanding of the world.

He concluded by thanking everyone for coming.

“This was a real surprise I had no idea. I really didn’t.”

Endowment Fund set up in Brewer’s honor

To honor Brewer’s contributions to the community, the Jim Brewer Endowment Fund is being established at the Ashland County Community Foundation.

Proceeds from the fund will benefit the Mohican Area Community Fund, which raises about $90,000 annually for local nonprofits.

Jane Stoops, MACF president, thanked Mike Bandy for his work on getting the fund established,

About a third of the required $15,000 has already been raised, according to Jim Cutright, president/CEO of the community foundation

Contributions can be sent to ACCF, 300 College Ave., Ashland, Ohio 44805 or made online at

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