Last July, Peyton Brewer-Ross texted a video to friends. He was walking down the street in sunglasses, his long hair in a ponytail. His daughter, Elle, was strapped to his chest, her floppy sun hat and tiny legs bouncing with his steps.

“I love being a dad,” Peyton said. Elle is 2.

Peyton Brewer Ross with his daughter, Elle. Photo courtesy of Nancy Lowell-Cunningham

Peyton, 40, of Bath, was killed while playing in a cornhole tournament at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant in Lewiston.

He was a Bath Iron Works pipefitter, a wrestler and a superfan of Superman.

Peyton was the life of the party, friends and family said. He loved to wear his Randy “Macho Man” Savage jacket, complete with cheetah print, red and yellow fringe. He’s pictured wearing the jacket playing cornhole, boating and cradling newborn Elle in the hospital. He asked his fiancee if he could wear it at their wedding.

“That was a nonstarter,” his brother Ralph Wellman Brewer said, laughing.


Whether it was in the jacket, a Pabst Blue Ribbon cowboy hat (his initials were PBR), or playing golf in a pair of jeans, bare chest and bright red suspenders, Peyton was always unapologetically himself.

“He likes everybody. He gets along with everybody, and everybody likes him. He doesn’t have an enemy in the world,” Brewer said. “He’s there to have a good time.”

His longtime friend Kegan Hathaway said he and Peyton enjoyed making mischief.

They took a fine arts elective in college, aiming for an easy credit.

“Within 10 minutes of our first class, the teacher separated us to opposite sides of the room,” Hathaway wrote on social media. “Yes, in college.”

When their friends started settling down, they weren’t quite ready, Hathaway said. But Peyton got there.


“After Elle was born, he became a changed man,” Hathaway said.

When they found out they were having a daughter, Peyton told his friends, “I’m gonna make sure I give her my best and help her grow up to be a good woman.”

Elle “is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, a total daddy’s girl,” Brewer said. “How do you tell a 2-year-old that he’s not coming back? It’s not something we should have to do.”

His family is collecting the recent stories about Peyton to keep in a box for Elle to read when she’s older, so she can see all the people who loved him.

“They used to play a game when she would get ready for bed … and we’d stand at the top of the stairs and call down to him and say ‘Daddy, where are you?’ ” his fiancee, Rachael Sloat, told People. “… And she’s calling for him and he’s not popping out and she doesn’t understand why.”

Wayne Benwell Jr., a close childhood friend, said Peyton could be a “ballbuster” but was always ready to lend a helping hand. “If this happened to any one of us, he’d be beside himself with grief. He was sensitive like that,” he said.


Peyton had a core group of friends from high school, and they talked nearly every day. He frequently told them he loved them.

“Life is way to short (sic) and we should spend more of it with all of us,” he wrote in one text in February.

His sister, Nancy Lowell-Cunningham, of Boothbay, said she and her brother tried to live by the idea that today is given, tomorrow is unknown, so you should let the ones you love know that you love them.

Sometimes, the two would argue and one would hang up on the other. But Peyton would call back within 10 minutes, just to make sure she knew he still loved her.

“His hugs, oh, my gosh, his hugs. He knew how to hug and hold on to you and make you feel secure,” his sister said.

Peyton was born and raised in Rangeley, the baby of six kids: four brothers from his dad’s side and a brother and sister from his mom’s. The family moved to Auburn when he was 4 and later to Westbrook, where he graduated from high school.


As a young adult he worked different jobs – driving a bread truck, moving furniture, “you name it, he’s probably done it,” his brother said. At 19, he moved to Bath.

He met Rachael at a Sea Dogs game in 2008 and was instantly smitten.

Elle and Rachael were his entire world, his sister said.

After this cornhole season was over, he was planning to leave the league so he could spend Wednesday nights with his family and not miss a moment.

Peyton was a natural storyteller. He might tell the same story 20 or 100 times, but it would be just as funny every time.

“He had great delivery, and it was just effortless,” Brewer said. “He got that from my dad.”


Storytelling has been a comfort to Peyton’s loved ones since his death. They’ve retold some Peyton classics, though most are not fit for print, said Brewer, and nobody can do them justice.

He loved baseball and football. He loved Star Wars and comic books. He had Superman T-shirts, figurines, a full arm sleeve of Superman tattoos.

And he loved playing cornhole. He spent evenings in the yard, teaching Elle to play, even if she was only 2.

Five years ago, Peyton started a Bath Iron Works pipefitter apprentice program through the Maine Maritime Academy.

While he was in it, his mother died. “He made a promise to Mom that he would finish,” his sister said. “He graduated with exceptional grades.”

Devin Ragnar, a spokesperson for Local S6, said he and Peyton went through the rigorous four-year apprenticeship program studying together and supporting each other.


“When you were talking to Peyton, he was listening,” Ragnar said. “He was caring, compassionate and really funny.”

He was excited about what was to come, his sister said.

He planned to continue his education. He and Rachael were planning to buy a home.

“He was making all the right steps for their future,” she said.

– Hannah LaClaire and Bonnie Washuk (Press Herald)

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