January 11, 2017

CARTERVILLE — Only once has a President of the United States visited John A. Logan College.

On March 6, 1976, Republican President Gerald Ford spoke to a standing-room only crowd gathered inside the College’s gymnasium. Ford, who succeeded President Richard Nixon following Nixon’s resignation in 1974, was on the campaign trail when he arrived at John A. Logan College.

There to greet the President was Don Brewer, chairman of the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees.

At the time, Brewer, who has now served on the College’s board of trustees for 44 years, was only in his third year on the board.

“To me, despite the fact that it’s been almost 41 years ago, it seems like yesterday when the President walked up and shook my hand,” Brewer said. “He was a gracious man and later he autographed a pictured taken of the two of us together. The crowd that day was huge, as I remember, and very energetic about the President’s visit.”

Brewer looked back on the President’s visit as one of the many highlights during his tenure on the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees. The gymnasium that Ford spoke in now bears Brewer’s name as the Donald L. Brewer Gymnasium and Convocation Center.

Photos of Ford’s visit to John A. Logan College continue to exist in the Gerald Ford Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “For John A. Logan College to have such a place in our nation’s history is, in my opinion, quite wonderful,” Brewer said. “The visit brought many dignitaries and national media representatives who had never been to Southern Illinois before.

“You can say that this College helped to orchestrate an opportunity for many young people to get very close to the political process and, for many of them, meet for the first and only time in their lives a President of the United States,” Brewer said.

As Brewer reflected on the momentous occasion at John A. Logan College, he also announced that he would be retiring from the board of trustees in April.

In the 44 years he has served the College, he has served 15 years as the board’s chairman.

“How long have I served this great College? Well, imagine, since Richard Nixon was President,” he smiled. “That has been a long while.”

Brewer was honored recently by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association for his tenure as the longest-serving trustee in Illinois.

“It’s been an honor and a great privilege to be a part of John A. Logan College’s amazing history,” Brewer said. “It’s certainly hard for me to believe that 50 years have passed by so quickly.”