Brooks was cared for by his daughter Vanessa in his senior year. Vanessa spoke to the Associated Press in October about the financial toll she and others have made to support elderly veterans like Brooks. “I want him to feel comfortable, happy and himself. If I can keep him in his right frame of mind until God calls him home, that’s my intention.”
By all reports, Vanessa did just that.
The military was still segregated in World War II, and Brooks did not receive the same benefits for his service as his white counterparts. Brooks spent quite some time in Australia, where he was treated with more dignity than he had received from his own homeland. Brooks told reporters that when he looked back on some of the time he spent in Australia during the war, he could compare his treatment there to his treatment at home. “I was treated so much better in Australia than by my own white people. That’s what I was wondering.”
Vanessa told CBS News in December that she has hopes that even though her father was denied the benefits of a free college education through the GI Bill, as well as housing options because of the racism in our country, she may still stand a chance. She said she believed her father had lived so long because he clung to the dream that our country would someday do him good. “It’s too late for him, but he wants me to go to school and I want to go to Tulane, but it’s just a dream. If the GI Bill is revived, I will have the opportunity to go back to school on my father’s shoulders.”
According to the president of the National WWII Museum, Stephen Wilson, who spent the last years of his life with Brooks, Brooks remained an optimistic force. “He was a dear friend, a man of great faith and a kind spirit who inspired those around him. He proudly served our country during World War II and returned home to serve his community and church. His kindness His smile and sense of humor connected him with generations of people who loved and admired him.”
Brooks had celebrated his 112th birthday last September with a drive-by party outside his New Orleans home. according to tet National WWII Museum, Brooks’ birthdays since 2014 have been hosted by the museum.
Brooks’ wife Leona died in 2008. He leaves behind four children, 11 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Enjoy the video below where Brooks talks about a harrowing experience he had during the war. Rest in peace.