By KAYE THORNBRUGH
Todd Brewer was magical.
Almost every weekend, the owner of Cheating Death Discount Vapor could be spotted in downtown Coeur d’Alene, sporting a jester hat and a patch-covered jacket, delighting passersby with magic tricks. People gravitated toward him.
One of his favorite tricks was putting out a cigarette on someone’s clothes without burning the fabric. It always astonished an audience.
Todd’s sister, Kelly Brewer, said she knows how the trick works now, after her brother’s passing.
“I have his fake cigarette stub,” she said with a laugh.
That doesn’t make it any less special.
“In his heart, he thought every human being had value,” said Rebecca Ross, one of Todd’s sisters. “The community just really loved him.”
Todd had a history of heart problems. On Sept. 10, his heart stopped beating. Emergency responders tried to revive him for more than 30 minutes before he arrived at the hospital.
The next day, Rebecca made the difficult decision to take him off life support.
“I promised him that I would never let him live like that if it were up to me,” she said.
He was 57 years old.
Now his family is struggling to cover the cost of burial. Todd wanted to be laid to rest beside his mother at Riverview Cemetery in Coeur d’Alene. Rebecca said the burial would cost $6,250.
Todd already has a headstone and casket; he made both of them himself. The casket doubled as a corner shelf in his shop for years — appropriate for a place called “Cheating Death.”
Todd’s headstone reads: “Step to the left — you’re standing on my liver.”
It’s in keeping with his effervescent personality, Rebecca said. Even the hearse that’s been chosen for his funeral is something to see: a low-rider with flames painted on the sides.
“It’s so Todd,” Rebecca said.
Kelly said she and her sisters have been flooded with messages of support from people whose lives Todd touched.
“Part of what’s helped me to get through this is all the love I’ve seen,” she said.
At first, when messages from friends began to pour in, Kelly said she wasn’t sure if she could bear to read them. Her grief was too fresh.
“But when I did, it warmed my heart and made me realize how much Todd truly was loved,” she said.
She hopes the community can continue to express that love.
Todd’s friends and family will gather for a motorcycle run at 7 a.m. today at The Corner Bar, 1628 N. Fourth St. in Coeur d’Alene, followed by a silent auction and spaghetti feed at 1 p.m.
Local businesses have donated gift cards and other items for the auction, including house cleaning services from K&M Cleaning, tax prep services from H&R Block, a set of tools, assorted gift baskets and even haircut services. The community is welcome.
The family has set up a memorial account at STCU. Donations for the Todd Brewer Memorial Fund are accepted at any STCU branch.
Rebecca said she and her sisters, along with their friends, will cherish their memories of Todd.
“He was larger than life,” Rebecca said. “There will never be another like him.”