In loving memory - Flora Alexandra Brewer

Monday, November 27, 2023 8:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Obituary for Flora Alexandra Brewer

MAY 31, 1957 - NOVEMBER 27, 2023

Flora Alexandra (Paulos) Brewer, MPA, PhD died on Monday, November 27th, 2023, at her home of thirty-two years in Fort Worth, TX after a two-year battle with metastatic bile duct cancer. She was sixty-six years old. She will be remembered always as a generous friend and neighbor, a dedicated community-developer, a devoted daughter, and a loving wife and mother. She is survived by her mother, her husband, her sons, her brothers, as well as many nephews, nieces, and beloved in-laws.

In her community, Flora is perhaps best known for her tireless work to improve the quality of life for those experiencing homelessness in Fort Worth. Building on the work and philanthropy of her father, James J. Paulos (d. 1999), Flora used her position as a respected small business leader to lift up the work of the city’s homeless shelters, many of which were located near her businesses in what would eventually come to be known as Fort Worth’s Near East Side. Collaborating with these existing organizations allowed her to develop skills and build relationships that would eventually enable her to help bring many of her neighbors out of shelters and into permanent homes. Flora’s work included gathering shelter leaders and property-owners to form a neighborhood association; winning grants for street improvements; working closely with police, traffic, and code personnel to improve security for all; and purchasing vacant buildings and repurposing them for the benefit of those already in the neighborhood.

Her first major development in 2004 was repurposing a 1920s four-story warehouse into the Lancaster Lofts and artist studios. Over a decade later, in 2015, Flora realized a long-term goal to provide housing for the people she saw daily living in Fort Worth’s homeless district. She took an opportunity to purchase and rehab the Palm Tree Apartments, a 1955 twenty-four-unit complex that had fallen into severe disrepair. By 2016, the property officially opened its arms to the community’s chronically homeless neighbors.

Flora’s example led to a new focus in the city’s Directions Home program and served as the inspiration for major financial commitments to building housing for homeless people at First Presbyterian Church and other organizations. Flora helped develop a new nonprofit, New Leaf Community Services, to produce more housing modeled after the Palm Tree Program, now embarking on its second project.

Her work earned recognition both for herself and the neighborhood from Southeast Fort Worth, Inc., the East Fort Worth Business Association, and the City of Fort Worth. Flora would eventually serve on the city’s Homelessness Task Force, the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness, and Fort Worth’s Supportive Housing Task Force, and ultimately earn a PhD in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Texas at Arlington (2015-2021) cementing her status as a recognized expert in housing and homelessness. In the final months of her life, Flora was recognized with the inaugural North Texas Community Foundation’s Pioneer Award and Every Texan’s (formerly Center for Public Policy Priorities) Texas Legacy Award.

But Flora was so much more than simply her career.

From the time Flora could walk, she danced. From the time she could talk, she sang. Music accompanied her every step. Growing up in the close-knit Greek communities of Detroit, MI (where she was born) and Pittsburgh, PA, Flora’s childhood home afforded endless opportunities to dance at family parties. Washing the dishes was a daily opportunity to harmonize with her mother, Angela (Skentzos) Paulos. Years later, a mother herself, she never missed the chance to sing with her equally musical sons, Evan and Matthew, constantly introducing fresh music into their lives, whether through the piano at home or tickets to a musical or an opera. Even her laugh was music, a fluting sound that never failed to delight all around her.

She met her husband, Michael Brewer, working as a counselor and music coordinator at a summer camp for young adults and children with physical disabilities. The two were married in 1979, the year before Flora earned a degree in music therapy and vocal performance and pedagogy from Michigan State University (1980). Then it was off to Texas where she found time to sing with Fort Worth’s Schola Cantorum and the Renaissance Consort when she wasn’t busy working at Lockheed Martin as one of the first female division heads in the company’s history.

Her passion for music fueled a desire to share beauty and art with all those around her. With colleagues at Bass Hall’s children’s program and the Fort Worth Chamber, she formed the Fort Worth Arts Education Partnership, developing and promoting a platform of basic, high-quality arts education for all children in public schools. Flora and her friends led a successful campaign to return art and music teachers to all FWISD elementary schools, raise funds for teacher development, and establish the first Fine Arts Director position.

Flora left her life with gratitude for all the opportunities, friends, and family she was given that filled her life with love and joy and empowered her to accomplish so much. She left with confidence that the work will continue through her wonderful children and the next generation of Americans committed to caring for their fellow human beings and sharing the abundance that is all around us.

These organizations were important to Flora. Please consider honoring her with a donation.

The Flora Fund at the North Texas Community Foundation

Center for Transforming Lives

DRC Solutions For Homelessness

Helping Restore Ability

Recovery Resource Council

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