Correction: The original version of this story misstated the date of the art show and sale. It is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 5.
Art was just one aspect of a well-rounded life led by Dr. Robert Brower. But it was an important one.
Brower, an art teacher at Carmel Junior High School, principal at Westfield High School, school superintendent, husband, family man, world traveler, student of science, coach (he led Carmel High School’s softball team to its first state title in 1994) and prolific artist, died Oct. 6, 2022, at age 71.
His interest in art started when he was a student in Logansport and continued through college, his career in education and retirement. He loved landscape painting, said his widow, Dr. Sheri Brower, who was married to Robert for 52 years. They would travel together, and he took photos of landscapes so that he could recreate them in oil and acrylics. He considered himself an abstract artist who worked quickly, but his paintings also were realistic, Sheri Brower said. He loved art history, visited museums worldwide and could give impromptu lectures about famous artists.
“He understood his personal artistic limitations but appreciated all kinds of art, particularly those that were beyond his realm,” Sheri Brower said.
Honoring his wishes, no public services were conducted after his death. But an upcoming event will serve as a tribute to his artistry and the values by which he lived.
More than 200 of Brower’s original paintings will be shown and sold from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 5 in the Community Room of the Carmel Clay Public Library, 425 E. Main Street in Carmel. The sale is being organized by the EmilyStrong Foundation for pediatric cancer research, with proceeds going to the Riley Childrens’ Foundation.
The EmilyStrong Foundation is named for Emily Alberts, daughter of Joe and Julie Alberts of Carmel and a Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School graduate. Now 19, she is a student at the University of Michigan, pursuing dual degrees in psychology and communication/media studies and is in the school’s honors program.
In August 2018, Alberts was 14 and in her second week of high school when she began to feel sick with common cold symptoms and swollen lymph nodes. She was diagnosed with Stage IIA Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“Getting the diagnosis was the scariest moment of my life, because I had no idea what was coming next,” she said. “I quickly had to learn to take everything one step at a time.”
She received treatment, including outpatient intravenous chemotherapy, at Riley Hospital for Children. On Dec. 14, 2018, she was elated to learn she was in remission, but she feared lingering side effects and the possibility of future health issues. She also dealt with “survivor’s guilt,” knowing that not every patient has such a positive outcome.
Emily Alberts wanted to give back. After her remission diagnosis, she led a team that raised $55,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Indiana. Bolstered by the success, she and her family established the EmilyStrong Foundation in the summer of 2020.
A family connection led to the art show and sale. Robert Brower was an uncle of Joe Alberts. According to Luke Alberts, 16, Emily’s brother, the Alberts family approached Sheri Brower and the Browers’ adult children, Adam Brower and Amy Keller, about the possibility of selling his works for a worthy cause.
“Fortunately, they graciously agreed and are enthusiastically supporting the show and sale,” said Luke Alberts, who has been helping promote the event. The goal is to raise at least $2,500 for Riley, he said.
Sheri Brower said the benefit sale fits with her late husband’s goal of helping others through teaching, coaching, leading and supporting. Not everything he painted will be offered. Some of his family’s favorites hang on walls in their homes. Robert Brower also gave away hundreds of his works, Sheri Brower said. The show and sale will allow others to share in his artistic gift.
“The only difficulty will be that he will not be there to see his paintings enjoyed by others,” Sheri Brower said. “His mantra was always that his paintings were like puppies. He wanted them to go to good homes.”
Remembering Dr. Robert Brower
Former students and athletes of Dr. Robert Brower, a teacher, coach and administrator who died Oct. 6, 2022, explain how he impacted their lives:
Jennifer Schumacher, lives in Montreal, graphic design artist, was a student in Brower’s art classes at Carmel Junior High School from sixth through ninth grade starting in 1974: “Even though junior high was a painful experience for most of us, walking into his classroom was a much-needed antidote to that angst. Bob supported each and every student. Because of his passionate teaching style, we fell in love with the world of art.” Schumacher said she kept in touch with Brower, last seeing him at lunch in Carmel in April 2022. When she learned of his passing, “Needless to say, I was devastated. Dr. Brower was a very special man, and his passing was a great loss. Adieu, Bob.”
Rob Day, an artist and illustrator who lives in Indianapolis, was in Brower’s art classes and was coached by him in track and cross-country at Carmel Junior High School in 1976-77: “Dr. Brower had a gift of teaching and mentoring young people. He was able to motivate, inspire and challenge students and student-athletes to get out of their comfort zones. When young people experience unexpected achievements, they gain self-confidence. Dr. Brower cared deeply about people and his students. He continued to remain friends with many of his former students, and I count myself fortunate to be one of them.”