Media executive Jim Brewer II, 56, lost his battle with oral cancer on Thursday night, and friends and co-workers remembered him as a kind man who loved the radio business, people and his community.
"Jim Brewer always thought about the positive impact his Brewer Media radio stations and publications could have and he was generous with his support of many nonprofits, including the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce," said Sybil Topel, vice president of marketing and communications with the chamber.
"We extend our deepest condolences to the Brewer family. Having spoken with the family, they wanted to share that Jim would have wanted all who knew him to celebrate his life and accomplishments."
Keith Landecker started at Brewer Media shortly after Brewer started there almost three decades ago, and said while the younger Brewer was learning the business from his father, Jim Brewer Sr., Landecker was learning from his new colleague.
"Jim was like a brother to me," Landecker said. "We came in here together at the same time.
"Mr. B, that's what he called his dad, wanted us to grow together, and we did that for 27 years. He taught me a lot about the business side. I thought I knew a lot, but I didn't."
But it was the personal side of Brewer that means the most to Landecker.
"You can work your whole life and hope that you would be loved and appreciated and respected, and I got that. It turned out to be more than just a job for me."
The importance of being a part of your community was something Brewer lived every day, Landecker said. When Landecker started a youth baseball program several years ago, Brewer was the first to contribute financially, and it didn't stop there.
"Twenty-seven boys went to college on scholarship from that team, and Jim had them all to his house and cooked for them before they went off to college. He was not the type to sit back in his office. If it was happening, he was there."
Bernie Barker, VP and general manager at Bahakel Communications, a local competitor, said Brewer was an asset to the community and the local radio scene.
"When I decided to come to Chattanooga nine years ago," Barker said, "friends advised that I needed to meet Jim Brewer. I did and maintained a business relationship with him since that time. I always looked forward to talking with Jim about the city, the state and the radio business. He was a good competitor, a good guy, and a friend. We will miss him."
Jason Walker and Brad Steiner are on-air personalities at Hits 96, a Bahakel station, and both expressed their deep respect for Brewer.
"As a young kid starting in radio," Steiner said, "there was no one nicer to me than Jim Brewer even when there was no reason to be. Although I never worked for him, being his friend was as rewarding of an experience that I have had in my professional career.
"... Jim's sense of humor and passion for life and living it while leaving nothing on the table was infectious. I hope Jim and [the late] Parker Smith have a seat ready for me at the bar when it's my time. ... Until then, I will miss him so much more than words can explain," Steiner said.
"Jim built one big family," Walker said. "He always treated me as an equal, even when I was young and trying to scratch out my future while he was a station owner with far more valuable time. We will not realize the value of his many examples, professional and personal, for a very long time. He loved his life, fought for it as long as he could and served as an extraordinary example of fatherhood."
Wells Guthrie started working for Brewer in 2011 as a 23-year-old and is today the program director for his ESPN station.
"One thing I will always remember about Jim is that when he hired me, I started as an intern, so I did about everything there, but even so, when the program director job came up, I was very inexperienced. He took a chance on me because I think he saw the passion for the product and for sports that I have. He didn't have to do that."
WDEF-TV 12 personality and Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame executive producer and board member Chip Chapman said, "I've seen a lot of great broadcasting people over the years, and Jim was one of the best. In operating his radio stations, he wasn't just a 'manager,' Jim was a 'leader.' And there's a huge difference between the two."
Heritage Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
CORRECTION: This story was updated Feb. 1, 2018, at 8:57 p.m. to correct the spelling of Bernie Barker's last name. The story previously referred to him as Bernie Parker.