DR. Bruce J. Brewer

brewerDr. Bruce Brewer was born in 1914. At age 5, he was diagnosed with polio and underwent 11 surgeries to his left leg, the last of which was performed by Albert Schmidt, MD. This experience lead him to his career. He graduated from Marquette University Medical School in 1940.

He was a Veteran serving in the US Army Air Corps in World War II as a physician. He was stationed for part of his tour at Patterson Field (Now Wright Patterson Air Force Base) in Dayton, Ohio.

After completing his residency in Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery he joined Dr. Albert Schmidt in Practice in Milwaukee. He practiced Orthopaedic Surgery at Milwaukee Hospital (which later became Lutheran Hospital of Milwaukee). He also practiced at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital (later became Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin), Columbia Hospital (now Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital), Milwaukee County Hospital (Milwaukee County Medical Complex), and Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital. Other members of his practice later included Thomas Flatley, MD, Michael Kubly, MD and James Langenkamp, MD.

Dr. Brewer was a Board Certified in Orthopaedic Surgery. He was a member of the Clinical Orthopaedic Society and served as the society President in 1981 and 1982 when the annual meeting of the Clinical Orthopaedic Society was held in Milwaukee. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr.-BrewerwithHankAaronHe was also a member of the Societe Internationale de Chirurgie Orthopedique et de Traumatologie.

Dr. Brewer was the Team Physician and Orthopaedic Surgeon for the Milwaukee Braves when they were in Milwaukee from 1953-1965. He was often quoted in the sports sections of the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel as he cared for our heroes. I believe Dr. Brewer was one of the founding members of the American Society of Sports Medicine. Here he is pictured removing a cast from Henry Aaron’s right ankle. Aaron broke his ankle sliding into third base late in the 1954 baseball season with the Milwaukee Braves. During his career with the Braves he also care for Bobby Thomson and Joe Adcock. Adcock married one of Dr. Brewer’s nurses.

Milwaukee Journal Thursday June 6, 1968Dr. Brewer became Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery of the Marquette University School of Medicine in 1968. He served in that capacity until 1986. He served during the transition period from Marquette to the Medical College of Wisconsin during the early 1970’s. In 1976 Dr. Brewer moved his practice to the Milwaukee County Medical Complex and became the first Full-time Chairman of Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Brewer called on many of us to serve with him. His associates during his years as full time chairman included Roger Paul Johnson, MD, Sam Neseman, MD, Jeffrey P. Schwab, MD, George Simons, MD, John Thometz, MD, James Stoll, MD, and me (Dr. Brewer hired me and then retired as chair in 1986).

Dr. Brewer’s interests in Orthopaedic Surgery were numerous and included sports injuries, the treatment of poliomyelitis and its residuals, the care of patients with arthritis including osteotomies and total joint surgery, the treatment of patients with complex fractures. He was one of the first surgeons in Milwaukee to perform a total hip surgery. He also developed devices for use in Orthopaedic surgery including a very unique shoulder spacer for use in patients with deficient rotator cuffs and secondary arthritis (we are still trying to solve this condition).

B.B.-PICS-1Dr. Brewer was keenly interested in the education of residents, medical students, faculty and colleagues. He demanded excellence in all that we did, and he held us to extremely high standards criticizing us liberally and frequently. He was dedicated to shaping and influencing Orthopaedic surgeons who could apply their knowledge very effectively in their care of patients with a myriad of conditions. He educated us in principles, techniques, and the total care of our patients. He cared deeply for all of us that he educated over the years.

The Orthopaedic Library was dedicated to and named for Dr. Brewer by our faculty in 1988. The dedication on the door of the library befits the dedication of Dr. Brewer to education. His own quote appears on the door plaque at the entrance to the library: “An intellectual tool for knowledge and learning, a quiet harbor for contemplation.”

Although he died in November 1997 at the age of 83, the impact that Bruce J. Brewer, MD had on not only the generation of orthopaedic surgeons that he educated, but also on the practice of Orthopaedic surgery locally, regionally, and nationally continues to impact the lives of our patients.

Written by: Donald K. Hackbarth, MD

Read Dr. Brewer’s commemorative address to the alumni meeting dedicated to Dr. Blount and Dr. Schmidt, October 11-13, 1978:



1: Brewer BJ. Low back pain. Am Fam Physician. 1979 Jun;19(6):114-8. PubMed PMID: 156491.

2: Brewer BJ. Aging of the rotator cuff. Am J Sports Med. 1979 Mar-Apr;7(2):102-10. PubMed PMID: 434288.

3: Murray MP, Gore DR, Brewer BJ, Zuege RC, Gardner GM. Comparison of functional performance after McKee-Farrar, Charnley, and Muller total hip replacement. A six-month follow-up of one hundred sixty-five cases. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1976 Nov-Dec;(121):33-43. PubMed PMID: 991517.

4: Brewer BJ. Athletic injuries; musculotendinous unit. Clin Orthop. 1962;23:30-8. PubMed PMID: 13872963.

5: Brewer BJ. Injection of the shoulder. Am J Orthop. 1962 Jun-Jul;4:160-1. PubMed PMID: 13872964.

6: Murray MP, Brewer BJ, Gore DR, Zuege RC. Kinesiology after McKee-Farrar total hip replacement. A two-year follow-up of one hundred cases. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1975 Apr;57(3):337-42. PubMed PMID: 1123387.

7: Brewer BJ, Golden GT, Hitch DC, Rudolf LE, Wangensteen SL. Abdominal pain. An analysis of 1,000 consecutive cases in a University Hospital emergency room. Am J Surg. 1976 Feb;131(2):219-23. PubMed PMID: 1251963.

8: Murray MP, Brewer BJ, Zuege RC. Kinesiologic measurements of functional performance before and after McKee-Farrar total hip replacement. A study of thirty patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or avascular necrosis of the femoral head. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1972 Mar;54(2):237-56. PubMed PMID: 4651259.

9: Brewer BJ. Controlled closed rotational osteoclasis of the femur. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1971;77:128-33. PubMed PMID: 5140441.

10: Brewer BJ. Unusual intra-articular fractures. Surg Clin North Am. 1958 Aug;38(4):1137-46. PubMed PMID: 13569094.

11: Brewer BJ. Congenital dislocation of the hip; new concepts in early diagnosis and treatment in infancy. Wis Med J. 1952 Sep;51(9):869-73. PubMed PMID: 13006355.

12: Street DM, Hansen HH, Brewer BJ. The medullary nail; presentation of a new type and report of a case. Trans West Surg Assoc. 1948;54(54 Annual Meet. (1946 Memphis)):320-9. PubMed PMID: 18123373.

13: Street DM, Hansen HH, Brewer BJ. The medullary nail presentation of a new type and report of a case. Arch Surg. 1947 Oct;55(4):423-32. PubMed PMID: 20270304.

14: Csuka M, Brewer BJ, Lynch KL, McCarty DJ. Osteonecrosis, fractures, and protrusio acetabuli secondary to x-irradiation therapy for prostatic carcinoma. J Rheumatol. 1987 Feb;14(1):165-70. PubMed PMID: 3106631.

15: Brewer BJ, Wubben RC, Carrera GF. Excessive retroversion of the glenoid cavity. A cause of non-traumatic posterior instability of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1986 Jun;68(5):724-31. Erratum in: J Bone Joint Sur [Am] 1986 Sep;68(7):1128. PubMed PMID: 3722229.

16: Murray MP, Gore DR, Brewer BJ, Gardner GM, Sepic SB. A comparison of the funtional performance of patients with Charnley and Müller total hip replacement. A two-year follow-up of eighty-nine cases. Acta Orthop Scand. 1979 Oct;50(5):563-9. PubMed PMID: 525323.

17: Cheung HS, Lynch KL, Johnson RP, Brewer BJ. In vitro synthesis of tissue-specific type II collagen by healing cartilage. I. Short-term repair of cartilage by mature rabbits. Arthritis Rheum. 1980 Feb;23(2):211-9. PubMed PMID: 7362668.

18: McCarty DJ, Halverson PB, Carrera GF, Brewer BJ, Kozin F. “Milwaukee shoulder”–association of microspheroids containing hydroxyapatite crystals, active collagenase, and neutral protease with rotator cuff defects. I. Clinical aspects. Arthritis Rheum. 1981 Mar;24(3):464-73. PubMed PMID: 6260120.

19: Murray MP, Gore DR, Brewer BJ, Mollinger LA, Sepic SB. Joint function after total hip arthroplasty: a four-year follow-up of 72 cases with Charnley and Müller replacements. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1981 Jun;(157):119-24. PubMed PMID: 7249445.

20: Murray MP, Gore DR, Brewer BJ, Gardner GM, Sepic SB. Comparison of Müller total hip replacement with and without trochanteric osteotomy. Kinesiologic measurements of 82 cases 2 years after surgery. Acta Orthop Scand. 1981 Jun;52(3):345-52. PubMed PMID: 7282328.