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White House staffer killed on charity bike ride remembered as ‘epitome of a public servant’

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A day after a White House staffer died in a cycling accident while raising money for cancer, his wife released a heart-felt tribute to her husband on Instagram that recalled his optimism and selflessness.

“I don’t have to tell most of you how wonderful he was,” Mary Katharine Ham wrote about her late husband, Jake Thomas Brewer, 34. “It was self-evident. His life was his testimony, and it was powerful and tender and fierce, with an ever-present twinkle in the eye. I will miss him forever, even more than I can know right now.”

Brewer is listed on the White House Web site as a senior policy adviser in the the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. He was killed Saturday when his bicycle went out of control at a sharp curve on Old Frederick Road in Maryland. It crossed the double yellow line and collided with an oncoming vehicle, police said. Brewer was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver of the 2008 Honda Pilot was not injured, police said.

At the time, Brewer was participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day cycling event aimed at raising money for cancer-treatment programs.

Brewer’s mother told The Washington Post he was in the fundraising ride because of a close friend who was a cancer patient. He “lived life large and tended to live life for other people,” Lori Brewer Collins said.

Collins said the ride will continue. Her son was a man who could “make things happen,” she noted, and that was what “he would have wanted.”

On Sunday, news of Brewer’s death spread across Twitter and Facebook, where a wide circle of professional contacts and friends expressed their shock and shared memories of their friend and colleague.

He was referred to as the “epitome of a public servant.”

Jake Brewer was, quite simply, the best of us. He had more empathy in him than the rest of D.C. combined. He believed…

Posted by Adam Conner on Sunday, September 20, 2015

A tireless technology advocate, on Wednesday Brewer signaled his support for Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teen who made national headlines after he was arrested for bringing a homemade digital clock to school last week.

In the tech news site Civicist, Brewer’s friend and colleague, Micah L. Sifry, shared a behind-the-scenes anecdote suggesting Brewer may have played a role in the garnering President Obama’s support for Mohamed on Twitter as well.

I replied at him, “get @potus and @nasa to speak up.” He direct messaged me in response, “That’s being worked on…Fingers crossed.” A few hours later, the President tweeted, “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?” Jake DMed me: “Got it. :)”

Before joining the White House in June, Brewer worked for and Fission Strategy, according to his Facebook page.

“Outside the office, Jake is a competitive triathlete, a widely published photographer, and serves in a variety of advisory and board roles with organizations building healthier democracy,” a biography on his personal Web site says. “Through it all, he hopes to one day return to his first job as minor league baseball mascot Murray the Mule.”

President Obama is one of many who have offered their condolences after White House staffer Jake Brewer died during the Ride to Conquer Cancer. (Video: WUSA9)

A Tennessee native who attended Vanderbilt University, he lived with his wife and toddler daughter in Alexandria, Va.

“I can never be without him because these babies are half him,” Ham wrote on Instagram. “They are made of some of the strongest, kindest stuff God had to offer this world. Please pray that he can see us and we’ll all make him proud.”