Dr. Sam Brewton, Jr. has served the Thomaston community which he calls home in many ways for more than 50 years. He is credited with being Upson County’s first Urologist at what is now Upson Regional Medical Center and has spent over a quarter of a century in public service, holding positions on both the Thomaston Board of Education and the Thomaston City Council. Dr. Brewton was honored for his dedication to the community with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Thomaston-Upson Chamber of Commerce’s 69th Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet held on November 5, 2015.
Brewton was born in Jacksonville, Florida on February 11, 1931 and was the only child of Samuel A Brewton, Sr. and Estelle Stephens Brewton. In 1938 his family moved to Thomaston where as a third grader, he began a long and pleasant association with Thomaston and Upson County. He graduated from R.E. Lee Institute in 1948 where he was a member of the BETA Club, National Honor Society, as well as the varsity football and track teams. Brewton attended Emory University, graduating in 1952 and after his college graduation he attended the Medical College of Georgia receiving his Medical Degree in 1956. This was followed by a medical and surgical internship at Duval Medical Center in Jacksonville Florida. After the completion of his internship, he was commissioned as a United States Naval Medical officer where he served on active duty with the US Marine Corp from 1957 until 1959 and as a Naval Reservist for the next six years. After Brewton completed his military service, he returned to the Medical College of Georgia where he completed a five-year residency program in General Surgery and Urology.
However, Brewton considers the best day of his life as the day that Martha Mullins agreed to become his wife and spend the rest of her life with him. Both being Thomastonians, they had known each other for several years, but had their first date in 1955 while both were home for the Christmas holidays from college and medical school and as they say, the rest is history. They were married in 1956 at the Old Methodist Church in Thomaston. When accepting his award, Brewton stated he would not have been able to achieve anything in his life without the help and support of his longtime partner, his wife Martha. The couple has been married for 59 years this year and together they have three children, Martha Caroline Reddick, Sam Brewton, III and Ben Brewton; as well as four grandchildren.
Brewton and his family returned to Thomaston in 1964 when he established a medical practice in the field of urology. Before he joined the staff of what is now Upson Regional Medical Center, the nearest urologist was in Griffin. With the addition of Dr. Brewton, patients would no longer have to travel out of town for treatment. He was known to be thorough, kind, and compassionate as he served mankind in both the office and hospital. His equipment was modern and he maintained an awareness of changes in his field. Brewton also served in various leadership positions on the medical staff. Dr. Dan Bridges, who spoke of Brewton during the awards ceremony, stated that even after retirement, Brewton would sometimes assist him in the performance of surgical procedures. Bridges said Brewton always told him he was available anytime he needed an extra set of hands.
Serving his community is something Brewton loves to do and he is proud to be an elected official for a total of 27 years. Brewton became a member of the Thomaston Board of Education in 1968, serving for seven years. He was elected to the City Council in 1977, serving five years, and was Mayor Pro-Tem for nine years before serving as Mayor of Thomaston from 2000 to 2003. He served during a time when changes in the economic scene occurred including the development of industrial parks, and the local airport. Brewton was also concerned about the appearance of Thomaston during those years. He was instrumental in the passage of the Greenhouse Ordinance that protects the green space on the city’s main thoroughfare, including the pine thicket on US 19 North, as well as establishing the Tree Board for the City of Thomaston.
“People always ask me, ‘Doc, why do you want to waste your time being involved in local politics,’ and my answer has always been the same,” Brewton said during his acceptance speech. “First of all, I don’t consider it to be a waste of time, number one. Number two, Thomaston is my home. It is my children’s home, my family’s home, my wife’s family’s home and if I’m not interested in it, who can I expect to be interested in it? You can’t expect other people to do things that you are not willing to take part in yourself.”
Brewton went on to say that no one should ever make the mistake of thinking they are not involved in politics themselves because you are whether you want to be or not. According to Brewton, there are two ways to be involved in politics, either actively where you play a part in influencing the process or passively where you sit back and accept whatever other people decide for you. He encouraged the crowd to take an active role in their community.
Being active in his church is another way Brewton serves his community. He and his wife Martha have attended First Baptist Church since 1964 and he has had the privilege of serving as Deacon for many years, as well as on numerous boards and committees. He also serves as a Sunday School teacher and when the church celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 1975, a hymn titled “A Prayer for Continuity” was sung, which he wrote.
Dr. Brewton is proud of his education, his military service and his selection as a Deacon of his church. He is also thankful of the fact that the citizens of Thomaston had the confidence to elect him to public office in multiple elections, which provided him with many more opportunities to serve the community which he loves for many years since he returned more than five decades ago.
“People have said you should never go back to your hometown to live, you need to go somewhere else where people don’t know you. I’ve never subscribed to that,” Brewton said. “I’ve always felt that Thomaston was home and there was never any reason for me to think I would not enjoy living here. I was happy to be back here and I wouldn’t take anything for having done that because I can’t go on any street in Thomaston and not many roads in Upson County that there is not a memory about people or places or things. There is a memory on every corner and I wouldn’t take anything for that.”
In his spare time, Brewton loves to travel with family and friends and enjoy the great outdoors. He is one of the original board members of the Flint River Keepers and has lobbied for and against legislation, affecting the status of the local natural resources that are so valuable to us all! He has always enjoyed hunting and fishing with his friends, children and grandchildren. Every chance he gets he enjoys breathing in the fresh Flint River air. In 2013, Dr. Brewton was awarded the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award. His current organizational involvement includes his status as a Diplomat of the American Board of Urology, Member of the Medical Association of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia Alumni Association. He is also a founding member and current director of the Flint River Keeper Environmental Organization.
Dr. Brewton received a standing ovation from the crowd at the chamber banquet as he made his way to the stage to accept his award. With a laugh, he stated it was a little sobering to be awarded something called the “Lifetime Achievement” award because it points out the obvious that the road ahead is a little shorter than the road already traveled. However, he added that it is very heartwarming and gratifying to feel that your friends and neighbors felt like you have contributed something worthwhile along the way.
“It is a great honor to be here and I thank you for it. I will never forget this.”
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1