John Wilton Brewer died peacefully on Jan. 21, 2024 at the Pat Roche Hospice House in Hingham. The cause was heart failure. He was 84.
The son of Jane Alberson Brewer, John was born on May 9, 1939 in Des Moines, Iowa, where he grew up. After high school, he earned a B.S. degree in business administration from Drake University, after which he served in the Army for two years as a clerk. He attained the rank of sergeant.
After his discharge, he worked for the Public Health and Planning Council of Central Iowa, and although he liked his job, he wanted to leave the Midwest, so he enrolled at Boston College, earned a master’s degree in health planning, and went to work for the Mass. Dept. of Public Health as associate director of health planning.
John’s life dramatically changed when, just before graduation from B.C., he met Charles Francis “Chic” Mahoney, who became his partner and with whom he lived a life deeply engaged with the fine arts.
“Chic’s stepmother, Maria Weld Mahoney, was a huge force in John’s life,” said his friend DeDe Ketover. “As she had done for Chic, she got John into all things of beauty. She was a Jungian and like a mother to John.”
When the opportunity arose, John left the Dept. of Public Health and opened Brewer’s Antiques in Essex. “He dealt in high-quality antiques and fine art, really expensive things,” DeDe said. “He was a collector of sculpture, paintings, and American glass art.”
John and Chic began in the early 1980s to spend their summers in Provincetown, and John cultivated his relationship with the town and with the Cape and islands.
They surrounded themselves with beautiful art from all over the world, but they had a special connection to Italy. After John retired from his antiques business, he and Chic moved to Gloucester, where they developed plans to build an elaborate Italianate villa at Rocky Neck, near the historic art colony that had been frequented by Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling, and Edward Hopper.
At the beginning of the project, in 1995, Chic died, and John continued to work on it. Soon after completing it in 1998, he sold the villa and moved to Jamaica Plain.
Before John bought his condo at Seashore Point in Provincetown, he lived on Nantucket from 2001 to 2014, where he served on the board of the Nantucket Art Association and volunteered at the Nantucket Hospital Thrift Shop.
During his Provincetown years, 2014 to 2020, John supported local theater. In 2016 he traveled on a WHAT-sponsored trip to Cuba, which, though choreographed by the Cuban government, gave him access to Cuban art, opera, and dance.
Through his kindness, generosity, and humor, John inspired those who knew him. “He was,” DeDe said, “a beautiful and engaging man.” He also expressed his love of dogs by supporting animal and wildlife organizations locally, regionally, and globally and caring for the many dogs that were a part of his life.
In Provincetown, John had a border collie named Fred “who would not go anywhere without John,” DeDe said. He also had a rescue dog from Tennessee, a beagle mix. When both dogs died, John was crushed, but he had the heart for one more rescue animal: an older cat named Skye.
When John could no longer care for himself, he moved to Linden Ponds in Hingham.
John is survived by his brother, James, and wife Sharon of Des Moines, Iowa; his nephews, Tim Brewer and partner Joan of Camano Island, Wash. and Chad Nitcher of New Orleans, La.; and his nieces, Jyl Brewer and Wendy Brewer, both of Vashon, Wash.
He was predeceased by his mother, Jane Alberson Brewer; his sister, Lucinda Jane Schmutz; and his life partner, Charles Mahoney.
A graveside service will be held this May in Annisquam.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John’s name to the Cape Ann Animal Aid in Gloucester, Pat Roche Hospice House in Hingham, or the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.