Chester Brewer's symbolic return as grand marshal

Thursday, October 13, 2011 | 1:17 p.m. CDT; updated 4:16 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 13, 2011
Chester Brewer, former MU athletic director, established MU's first Homecoming on Nov. 25, 1911.

This year’s Homecoming host won’t be cheering on the Tigers from the stands.  

Chester Brewer, former MU athletic director and all-around sportsman, passed away in 1953 and is the University’s first posthumous grand marshal of Homecoming. Fifteen members of his extended family will represent him during the annual celebration.


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“It is kind of humbling,” Brewer’s granddaughter Molly Roland says.

Brewer is known for possibly establishing the first Homecoming tradition on Nov. 25, 1911, after inviting alumni to “come home” for a football game against the University of Kansas.

Before Brewer was MU’s athletic director in 1910, he was the football and basketball coach at Michigan State University. After leaving MU, he coached basketball at the University of California.

“You look back in history,” Roland says, “and the people who were able to pull people together despite their differences are really significant because they brought people together for the common good.”

As the ceremonial hosts of Homecoming weekend, Brewer’s family will meet with students, visit numerous buildings on campus, attend receptions and ride in the parade, says Carrie Bien, student programs coordinator of the Mizzou Alumni Association.

Two of the most important grand marshal duties, however, are leading the crowd in an M-I-Z Z-O-U chant and crowning the Homecoming royalty. Bien says the Mizzou Alumni Association did not consider any other alumni for the job because Brewer was the best choice for the centennial.

Roland understands the influence her grandfather had after his death. One way she sees his impact is in the respect she sees on and off the field. She was particularly touched at a recent game against Oklahoma University when OU played MU’s fight song on the field.

She is looking forward to seeing that kind of camaraderie and sports integrity during Saturday’s Homecoming game.

“It’s very humbling when I read how much he did because I think the world is just so much bigger today,” she says. “I appreciate the impact and the vision that he had.”

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