Lawrence F. Brewster Reminisces
Lawrence F Brewster

Looking back from the vantage point of eighty-three years of age and forty-five years of residence in Greenville after prior residences for shorter periods of time in five other states, I am grateful to my advisor at Duke University, Dr. W.T. Laprade, under whom I did my work for the Ph.D. He gave me my start in university teaching at Duke and opened the way for me to come to East Carolina Teachers College in the fall of l945.

My talk with Dr. A. D. Frank, Chair of the Social Studies Department, resulted in an offer of a position. In looking over the courses taught, I was surprised to see none in Russian or Far Eastern History and remarked that the times seemed to suggest their importance. Dr. Frank said that he agreed and that I should prepare and teach the courses. This I did for some years until specialists in these fields were hired. Fortunately, my advanced studies at Princeton, Columbia and Duke had included a wide variety of areas and periods, so I was not unprepared.

Dr. Paul Murray joined the Department that same year, and Dr. Richard Todd, who had followed me to Duke, came in 1950, shared my office in the old Austin Building, and has been a good friend ever since. In 1969, to the surprise of Dr. Herbert Paschal, the Chair of the History Department, I retired to Professor Emeritus status.

In the years that followed, I was able and happy to establish graduate fellowships and a lecture series in the Department of History. I was most grateful when Chancellor Leo Jenkins decided that a building, then the largest classroom building on campus, should be named for me. In connection with the dedication of the building, invitations were sent to former members of the Department. From one came a note saying, "I had not heard of Brewster's passing but assume that he must have, since you are naming a building for him."

Many students and others have come to know about me through my association with the building. My colleague, Dr. Jim Batten, likes to tell his Brewster Building story. When Dr. Batten asked a student, "What building are we in?," the student replied, "the Brewster Building." To the follow-up question, "Who is Lawrence Brewster?," the student responded, "I have no idea!"

It is my privilege now to have a part in the activities of The Planned Support Council, the East Carolina Retired Faculty Organization and the Friends of the East Carolina University Library. I also keep up memberships in a number of local, state, regional and national historical, educational and senior citizen organizations.

Excerpted from Kenneth Wilburn, editor, "Department of History Newsletter" (Greenville: Department of History, East Carolina University, 1990), 7.