Rudi Brewster was born in post-Depression South Dakota. His father, a Sioux Falls sole practitioner encouraged his son to explore and discuss historical as well as current issues that were of interest. In high school, Brewster became an avid participant in debate and extemporaneous speaking activities which, to his family’s delight strengthened their assumption that one day he would follow in the profession of his father. On a daily basis, they impressed upon him the principles of fairness and integrity.
Brewster’s cousin, a Naval Aviator in World War II, gave him added inspiration in another of his youthful interests—flying. At the age of 12, he received his first two instructional flights in the cockpit with his admired cousin. Following the war, the cousin became an outstanding businessman and highly respected community leader. His high standards of integrity were known by all and further influenced the young Brewster.
Upon graduation from Sioux Falls’ Washington High School in 1950, Rudi Brewster attended Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, participating in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program. In 1954, he graduated with a BA degree and a commission as a Navy Ensign and was assigned to Naval Flight School, where he received his Naval Aviator Wings in December, 1955. From the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego he was deployed to the Western Pacific for one tour aboard the USS Philippine Sea as part of an antisubmarine attack squadron.
Upon his return from deployment in 1957, he selected inactive reserve status from the Navy and enrolled in Stanford Law School. He remembers the guiding influences of his law school days and the willingness of the numerous law professors that took time to guide his career interests, abilities and choices. Graduating from Stanford in 1960, he began his legal career as a civil trial lawyer with the San Diego firm of Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye, where he became a partner in 1968 and practiced until his judicial appointment in 1984.
During his 24 years as a litigator at the San Diego firm, Judge Brewster recalls the on-going mentoring of many of the firm’s attorneys; especially J. Clifford Wallace, now Senior Circuit Judge of the Ninth Circuit and the late J. Sterling Hutcheson, both of whom worked closely with Brewster during his tenure and bonded as friends. “They reinforced in me the centrality of integrity and hard work in the legal profession, and they demonstrated the wisdom of teamwork and professionalism with all whom you encounter.”
Today, for over 20 years, Judge Brewster sits on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California; since 1998 in senior status, but still tirelessly handling a large caseload. It is hardly surprising in his 45 years as both a lawyer and a judge, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow legal professionals.
It is also not surprising that Judge Brewster continues to imbue in others the same principles of integrity, fairness, respect and professional responsibility that he has learned over the years. He is a founding member of the Louis M. Welsh American Inn of Court, one of the first and foremost Inns in the country and is still an officer, leader and regular program participant. Judge Brewster’s clerks speak of their clerkship as additional training in both legal process and high professional standards and lawyers appearing before him know that he does not tolerate incivility or shoddy case preparation.
Judge Brewster is a judicial member of the American, California and San Diego County Bar Associations. He has served on the California State Bar Committees on the Unauthorized Practice of Law and Workers’ Compensation. He was a director of the San Diego County Bar Association from 1969-72; served as a delegate to the California State Bar Convention from 1965-74; former director of the Legal Aid Society, serving as its president in 1970-71 and served as vice president of the San Diego County Bar Association from 1971-72. He is a judicial fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and former member of the International Association of Insurance Counsel and American Board of Trial Advocates. He has been a frequent speaker at seminars and programs of bar associations and law schools and has published works in legal journals on subjects relating to civil trial work.
Judge Brewster and his wife of 52 years, Gloria, have three grown children and eight grandchildren. They are active in their community and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.