Mr. Brooks attended schools in Newfane and Brattleboro before enlisting in the Army at the start of World War II, entering in June of 1942, serving three-and-a-half years before being discharged in December 1945. He was first shipped to Panama, spending a year and a half guarding the Panama Canal before being shipped to Europe, where he was an automatic rifleman serving in General Patton’s 3rd Army, 71st Infantry Division as an advanced guard. After landing in Le Havre, France, his division marched north 1,060 miles over a period of 92 days, being the first allied force to enter Austria from the west. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and at the war’s end his division was at the eastern most point of any US Army in the European theater. They relieved the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne and crossed the Rhine into Oppenheim, Czechoslovakia. Mr. Brooks was awarded the European African Middle East Theater Campaign Ribbon, the American Theater Campaign Ribbon, Expert SMG, Expert BAR 1st Class Gunner Classification, Combat Infantry Badge, Good Conduct Medal, and Victory Medal.
Upon returning from the service, he was fortunate enough to meet his soulmate, Gladys Ella Lightfoot. They were married during a candlelight service at the Methodist Church in Winhall on May 28, 1948. They lived briefly in Newfane before making their home in Jamaica, where they lived 56 years together until her death in April 2004. As a young man, Mr. Brooks worked as a painter in his father’s business and in the machine shops in Springfield. He loved nature and longed to be outside, so he left the shops shortly after his return from war, and for the balance of his life was self-employed in outdoor occupations. He first began logging with a team of horses, and this was always his favorite job. He suffered several significant injuries while logging and eventually started a construction and landscaping business, where he was accompanied by long-term employees and friends, Tom and Raymond Fletcher, of Jamaica. Many homes in the area have beautiful stonewalls or ponds that he designed and built. He was known for his work digging cellar holes, building driveways, and caretaking, and this continued until his retirement.
Mr. Brooks was a member of the Masons and Mt. Lebanon Chapter of the Eastern Star in Jamaica. He had served on the Jamaica Selectboard, Jamaica Cemetery Commission, and was a former member of the Jamaica Fire Department.
Mr. Brooks is fondly remembered by his grandchildren for his love of nature and broad knowledge of Vermont wildlife and landscape, his ability with woodcarving and sketching, and the spring days spent in his garage during sugaring season. Mr. Brooks’s grandchildren hold many funny and wonderful memories of their time spent together at his beloved camp in Stratton. He had a fabulous dry wit and loved mischievous jokes. He was able to see possibility and promise whether in renovating a home, studying the sky, building a garden, or in mentoring and helping the younger generations to love their town, land, and country’s history.
He is survived by two children, James C. Brooks and companion Nell Hallonquist, of Jamaica, and Jeanette Gladys Underwood and “son” Greg Underwood, of Wardsboro; five grandchildren, Amy Shaw and husband Jeffrey, of Springfield, Beth Pierson and husband Charles, of Jamaica, Melissa Derecola and husband Chris, of Seattle, WA, Patrick Brooks, of Boston, and Rachel Brooks, of Brattleboro; four great-grandchildren, Kristian and Derek Pierson, of Jamaica, and Ella and Avery Shaw, of Springfield. He always felt his greatest accomplishment was his family, loving his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren beyond measure and always taking the greatest pride in their accomplishments. Mr. Brooks is also survived by three siblings, Dot Massengale, of Parish, FL; Norman Brooks, of Newfane; and Tom Brooks, of Brattleboro. He was predeceased by three siblings, Winifred Holden, Robert Brooks, and Alfred Brooks, all of Newfane.
A private burial will be held in the spring at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers the family suggests making a donation to a charity of choice.