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Ernie Wever, 88, youth sports advocate and former Brooksville council member, dies

Ernie Wever became known as the “go-to guy” for sorting out Brooksville finances.

Ernie Wever became known as the “go-to guy” for sorting out Brooksville finances.

BROOKSVILLE — Ernie Wever, a four-term Brooksville City Council member and known as the godfather of organized youth sports in Hernando County, died Friday at the age of 88 at HPH Hospice in Spring Hill.

Friends and family members recalled Mr. Wever, for whom the county's largest sports complex is named, as perhaps Hernando's most ardent supporter of youth sports. In the late 1950s, he helped establish the county's first organized Dixie League baseball team.

"He loved watching the kids play sports," Mr. Wever's son, Kevin, said Friday. "His face would light up every time he went to the park."

SunTrust Bank executive Jim Kimbrough, who played on one of Brooksville's early Dixie League teams, said Mr. Wever was a dedicated volunteer who spent countless hours at the ball fields.

"Every time you saw him, he was on a mower or he had a shovel or rake in his hand," Kimbrough said. "He didn't do it for any credit. He just did it out of love."

Born in Yazoo City, Miss., Mr. Wever served in the Army Air Forces as a bombardier during World War II. He returned home to study business finance, then moved to Brooksville in 1957 and was hired to work as a cashier and FDIC examiner at Hernando State Bank, now SunTrust Bank.

After his retirement in 1991, Mr. Wever was elected to the City Council in 1994, during a time of great turmoil in city politics when three of the five council members were recalled. He quickly established himself as a budget hawk who carefully scrutinized city expenditures.

"When it came to finances, Ernie was the go-to guy," current council member Joe Johnston III recalled. "His financial acumen was incredible. And though you had to take some of the things he said with a grain of salt, he got to the bottom of those kinds of things."

Brooksville lawyer Bruce Snow, who played on one of Mr. Wever's early baseball teams, called him an "even-tempered man with a gentle disposition" who considered youth sports to be important in teaching kids about sportsmanship and fair play.

"He never screamed or hollered," Snow recalled. "You enjoyed playing for him because he made it fun. That's what I'll always remember."

Mr. Wever is survived by two sons, Kevin and Bryan, and a daughter, Pam, all of Hernando County. His wife, Laura, died in 2013. A gathering and memorial service for Mr. Wever will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday at Merritt Funeral Home, 2 S Lemon Ave., Brooksville.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1435.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Ernie Wever, the youth sports advocate and former Brooksville City Council member who died Friday, was 88 years old. His age was incorrect in a story published Saturday.

Ernie Wever, 88, youth sports advocate and former Brooksville council member, dies 01/17/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 20, 2014 1:29pm]

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