Caroline Kuniko Brewer, 54 years old, passed away peacefully at home in Mt. Juliet, TN on November 29, 2022 from complications of colon and liver cancer. Caroline was born January 21, 1968 to Donald and Hiroko Scalise in Des Moines, Iowa. She is survived by her husband, Steve Brewer (Mt. Juliet, TN), her daughter Emeli (22, Nashville, TN), and her son, Quinn (24, Normal, IL), who is married to Emily (Kastl). Caroline’s mother, Hiroko Scalise, lives in Aurora, IL. Her father, Don, a veteran of the Air Force, and avid fisherman and hunter, passed away in 2009.
Caroline loved seeing the world, starting her adventures at 9 years old flying to Japan to stay with relatives for the summer. She attended Byron Rice Elementary and Herbert Hoover High School in Des Moines. She started playing the violin at 8 years old, and played through high school in the orchestra. She took Japanese as foreign language in high school. She received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa in Japanese Language and Literature, and actively participated in the Foreign Language House, where she met and fell in love with her husband, Steve, who was her Resident Assistant (RA).
After college both Caroline and Steve went to Japan to teach English with the JET Program, and she worked at Ichikawa Daimon High School in Yamanashi-Ken and lived within the grounds of a Buddhist temple. Caroline, who lived near Mt. Fuji in central Japan, and Steve, who lived far north in Aomori-Ken near Hokkaido got engaged in 1990 and were married on a day with double rainbows in Maui, Hawaii in 1991, with 20+ friends and relatives from both Japan and the United States. Caroline and Steve traveled extensively around Japan, and also took adventure trips to Thailand where they rode elephants through the jungle, and Bali Indonesia where they snorkeled and enjoyed exotic cultural dances. They lived in Japan for three years, and climbed many mountains, including Mt. Fuji at night time.
Caroline and Steve returned to the United States in 1993, and lived in Barrington, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago where Steve grew up. She taught English at Berlitz Language School, then worked at Nippon Steel as an Executive assistant and Market Researcher in Chicago. She and Steve moved to Naperville, IL in the mid 1990s. Quinn was born in 1998 and Emeli in 2000. Caroline invested her life in her children, staying home instead of working during the day in their early years to care for and enjoy them. In the evenings she worked as a Pampered Chef and Southern Living consultant, and also ran the Children’s Ministry Program at their church. Caroline and Steve traveled to London and parts of the United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico. As a family they often camped around Lake Michigan, and spent many summer weeks in South Haven Michigan, or up in Door County Wisconsin, and enjoyed lazy days on the beach.
At the encouragement of multiple friends, Caroline began pursuing a career in Nursing, first working as a CNA, getting an Associates RN degree from the College of DuPage in 2011, and then a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) from Benedictine University in 2015. She worked in nursing at Advocate Health Care, in Aurora, IL while getting her nursing degrees. After getting her BSN, she worked in Chicago in the Emergency Department at Loyola Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, and then at Edward Elmhurst Hospital in Surgical Oncology as a Breast Care Coordinator and Radiology Nurse in Naperville, IL.
Caroline was a runner for many years, finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2007 despite 90 degree temperature heat. She was a tough one. Caroline had the gift of hospitality, and was a food adventurer, who loved cooking new recipes and trying new restaurants. She loved crafts, especially when surrounded by friends, making scrapbooks, practicing calligraphy, quilting, and crocheting handmade gifts for others. She was a Jesus-following and trusting person, generous to help others, and provide an encouraging word, and daily prayed for the needs of others.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, and had a double mastectomy. She recovered well and had no evidence of further disease until being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2018, went through several rounds of chemotherapy, and had surgery in 2019. She was very health conscious and ate mostly paleo, and continued a good quality of life while Quinn went to Illinois State University, and Emeli went to Belmont University for Nursing.
After living in Naperville Illinois for 26 years, Caroline and Steve moved to Mt. Juliet, TN, just northeast of Nashville in the summer of 2020, right after Covid-19 lockdowns had started. Caroline worked as a Perioperative Nurse at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital. They enjoyed time on the farm, cultivated a garden, a horse, cows, and their dog, Hunny. They live very close to Steve’s parents, John and Linda Brewer, and Steve’s sister, Joy, and her husband, Ray Anderson. In the fall of 2020 a CT scan at Vanderbilt University Hospital indicated that Caroline’s liver cancer had returned and she received an ablation to remove and reduce the size of some of the tumors. She enjoyed life and traveled to New Orleans, San Diego, New York, and Atlanta visiting friends.
In the summer of 2021 a CT scan indicated that her cancer had metastasized to some lymph nodes, and she started chemo treatments again. In 2022 the chemo treatments began causing severe nausea, and she began feeling more fatigue and pain. Through it all she still found time to spend with friends, help Steve raise honey bees and extract honey, and enjoy time with family.
Caroline had a gift of making everyone feel welcome, whether you stepped through the door to her home, were a new member of a group she participated in, or were someone in need of help. She trusted God to use her whole life for the building up of others, and had faith that God would lead her through her fears and weakness and would allow her to be a blessing to others right up to the end. And she was.
A Celebration of Life service will be held for Caroline on January 21, 2023 at Hermitage Church of Nazarene at 2pm at 4151 Saundersville Rd, Old Hickory, TN 37138.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Gifts can be mailed to: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Office of Development, PO Box 290369, 525 Royal Parkway, Nashville, TN 37229-0369. Checks should be made payable to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Please include a note with the check or indicate on the memo line that the gift is made in memory of Caroline Brewer. Gifts can also be made online at VanderbiltHealth.org/giving. Please select the checkbox next to “Dedicate my donation in honor or in memory of someone.”