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Storyteller not silenced by throat cancer
Donald Brewer was always the center of attention at parties.

Interesting and weird stories from his 26 years working as a Secret Service operative produced waves of laughter from partygoers.

Unfortunately in 2001, two years after retiring from the service, he was diagnosed with a form of throat cancer that left him without his natural voice. The only way he can communicate verbally now is with the assistance of an electronic artificial larynx.

"I like to tell stories and I enjoyed it when I could talk but not so much now because people can't understand me as well, and I can't use words that I like to use," said Brewer.

Although Brewer never smoked tobacco, throat cancer took away his once boisterous voice. It also makes it difficult for him to swallow food and keeps him from bending over.

The man who loved to entertain people was forced into silence - almost. The St. Simons Island resident, refusing to let his ailment keep his criminal stories from being told, has found another way to express himself.

In 2003, his cancer in remission, Brewer decided to finish writing a story he had been working on for years. On Oct. 1, his first novel, "Worthy of Trust and Confidence," hit the bookshelves.

The story focuses on a Secret Service investigation of counterfeit money in the late 1890s.

Brewer spent the majority of his federal career working in the counterfeit money department and retired as the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Counterfeit Division in Washington, D.C.  

Choosing the topic of the story was a no-brainer, says Brewer.

"A lot of people are fascinated by the Secret Services," he said.

Brewer chose to write out his story in a five-subject spiral notebook. His wife, Linda, is his typist.

He currently is in the process of writing two more novels, one of which is a sequel to "Worthy of Trust and Confidence."

Even though he never intended to be a professional writer, the 64-year-old has found solace in writing about stories from his time working as an agent of the government.

"It helps me express myself. I always enjoyed telling the stories, so it helps me with that," said Brewer. "It keeps my mind occupied. It keeps it active. It keeps my mind sharp."

Brewer will be at Books-A-Million, 163 Golden Isles Plaza, Brunswick, for a book signing at 2 p.m. Friday.

* Coastal People appears Mondays. Contact Martin Rand III at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 324 to suggest a person for a column.

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