1110 BrennerW

Harry and Minnie Brenner exemplified post-WWII life in Davis. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

Our Sunday Best

Meet the Brenners

By From page A7 | November 10, 2013

Here’s another story, one about a farm boy who marries, settles in Davis and becomes a winemaker because he was a mechanic.

Harry Brenner, 91, and Minnie Brenner, 87, Davis residents for more than 60 years, exemplify the city’s post-World War II growth.

The Army drafts Harry Brenner, a Kansas State University freshman, but he fails the physical. He gets a job working nights, fixing planes that fly out of Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, ferrying mail and VIPs to the South Pacific.

After the war, Brenner goes to work for a crop-dusting outfit headquartered at University Airport and lives in a boarding house in downtown Davis.

One night, at a dance in Woodland, he meets a woman named Minnie. Two years later, in 1948, they get married.

Brenner lands a job on the college campus with the viticulture and enology department, which needs someone with mechanical and electrical experience. That’s Harry, who goes to work on a winery automation project.

Soon, he’s helping researchers on their wine- and brandy-making projects.

In 1951, a subdivision is built in a barley field as Davis tries to cope with housing demand. Harry and Minnie move out of a duplex 1 1/2 blocks up J Street into a $11,000, three-bedroom house with a porch.

They raise six daughters there.

For a while, Brenner picks up extra work delivering mail at Christmastime. He adds two bedrooms and a bathroom to the house, does the carpentry himself.

Brenner pedals a bike to work for 28 years.

“Every time you turned around, the place was growing,” Harry says about Davis.

Minnie works in the Student Health Center kitchen, and walks down to State Market to shop for groceries.

For many years, she delivers gift baskets and coupons to people new to town as the City Hostess. She meets so many people from so many places.

“It’s a wonderful place to live,” Minnie says.

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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