This message is a follow-on to Jenny Linn Olin’s earlier post (March 11) on Richard Brooks.    

Dear Friends,

I am sending this to you as the final gesture and tribute to Richard Harold Brooks, aka Dick, or as he referred to himself, “DickieB” 

When I called the National Cemetery in Bushnell to inquire about plans for a service, I learned Richard was interred on the Campus of Bay Pines in Unit One, Court A, Wall 17, Road D, Site #10 on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 with Military Honors at 1:30 including the playing of taps. Nobody was notified. 

The military will provide a headstone which should include the following information with his name and dates: 

Richard Harold Brooks, born 22 January, 1944 in Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio, died in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida sometime before  March 6, 2013. 

Richard was a Sgt US Air Force, Vietnam” (tour of duty: May 21, 1964 – Apr 26, 1968) 

I want to thank you for your responses and kind remarks about Richard. He would have enjoyed hearing you express your thoughts. 

He was the only child of Geraldine Viola Grau and Harold Charles Brooks. He talked about having a dog. I don’t know the dog’s name, but that dog missed out on a lot of cheese dog biscuits which Richard said were pretty tasty. He grew up in Tampa, attending Hillsborough High School, graduating in 1962, and the University of South Florida, graduating about 1970. He spent his summers in Ohio with his father, step-mother, and her children. Beginning in high school, he worked for Morrison’s Cafeteria in the kitchen. I gathered from his stories that he was very dependable. I remember him talking about going by Busch Gardens on his way to USF for classes and seeing the large wild animals grazing in the field. He served in the Air Force being stationed in Germany and doing a tour of duty in Vietnam. He had a serious relationship with a German girl during that time. 

He was a chemist for Tampa Electric (TECO) for 30 years retiring in 2001. Before his retirement he lived at 201 Como Street, Davis Island, Tampa, Florida. Richard was industrious. He talked about the family going to Cuba for vacations and the many field trips he went on (without the parents). One trip was to a sugar mill. He said a couple of boys were misbehaving, and they were left out there. The parents had to worry about getting them back to the hotel. Let’s hope that was not Richard. 

He joined Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), working in the office as a volunteer every Friday afternoon for years, taking many classes where he was probably the class assistant, and teaching classes on “Women Pirates.” This resulted in many astonished remarks and then laughter. That was the reaction he lived for. 

Mike Pheneger remembers that he was in many of his classes such as Geopolitics, Bill of Rights and The Constitution. Mike contacted the ACLU members and Brian Becker sends his condolences, too. My friend from Lakeland, Stella Darby, remembers him from the time the ACLU supported the young people in Lakeland when they on their own, produced the play: “The Laramie Project” which she attended with Richard and me. 

Dan Rutenberg responded: “He was bright, interesting, and likable. He’ll be missed…thanks for letting us all know.” Jack Gary remembers he was a talented and giving person. Harriet Deer will miss him because he was such a help to her in her classes where she needed an audio/visual assistant. Jack Robinson remembers him as a wise and good man, with a remarkable sense of humor. He regrets Richard did not have a healthier end-of-life and live longer. Jack and Richard were in “The Skeptics” together. Lou Dovi remembers he was so unusual in his combination of interest and talents and especially his cultured and acerbic wit. June Miller and Kay Menzel remember how interesting and talented he was. Pat Renfroe remembers he was pleasant to be around. Susan Bottom remembers his humor, his sharp intelligence and open-mindedness. She valued his friendship. Mary Ettinger O’Donnell, appreciated the information about Richard. She always liked him. They worked together for years in the Olli Office as Richard volunteered there as mentioned above. Lisa Anne Conner remembers him for his classes on “Women Pirates” which she enjoyed because she is “one.” She also remembered him for how her mother, Pat Conner, enjoyed knowing Richard. Pat gave Richard tickets to American Stage to see “Doubt” a play that Mary Ann Bentley also used in Reader’s Theatre. Brenda Tipps remembers Richard from his contributions to Readers Theatre. Don Loefler and Bud Merriles remember Richard from his participation in Readers Theatre and from working at the Center for Advanced Clinical Learning at USF Medical School where we were standardized patients. They will keep Richard in their prayers. David Henry asked permission to post the previous E-mail on the OLLI website www.OLLILifeUSF.org as a tribute to his memory.

 From The Center For Inquiry, Mark Brandt remembers him as a fellow traveler on life’s journey; Rick O’Keefe remembers him as a loyal member even when he became ill; and Laurie Angyn remembers the good times, Toni Van Pelt remembers him quite well even though she has not seen him for a very long time. She was not aware he was so active. 

Mary Ann Bardi remembers that he was a season ticket holder at the Carrollwood Players and has missed him in the last few years. Anna Brennen remembers his involvement with the two plays StageWorks did for the ACLU at the Gorilla Theatre and his attendance at the other StageWorks productions. Bridget Bean has fond memories of Richard because of his faithful attendance at the Gorilla Theatre including the two plays for the ACLU that were there. Jerry Strain was grateful for having known him, the great times at the Gorilla with the receptions for Sierra Club’s Inter City Outings and The Rainbow Tribe (kids at risk) with Richard’s crazy costumes, and sharing the same birthday. Adele Walter will miss seeing him at Monday Night Jazz and other USF events. She feels he was way too young to die. She suggests supporting the things he believed in as that would probably be the best way to honor Richard. I think she is right on the mark with that statement. She realized how lucky we are to have known him. My friend, Phyllis Johnson says he was a great man. Corinne Broskette of Venue Theatre Collective and Actors Studio said he was a fine man and I was blessed to have him as a friend, as I think we all were. Another Readers theatre member, Lynne Sellon, remembers Richard and thought he was interesting. 

Meg Comins writes: “I do remember celebrating my birthday at Jerk Hut with Richard, you, and Jerry. And the many plays we went to. He always had interesting stories from his Air Force days and growing up in Tampa. I always enjoyed our conversations.” Harriet Wright always included him in her wonderful parties. She insisted that he received his own personal invitation, not second hand through me. She said we were the perfect couple, and she loved having Richard among her many guests. Barbara and David Nicholson said they will hold all who cared about him in the Light. They sent their love. 

Alvin Wolfe enjoyed meeting Richard and was grateful for his help on occasion at meetings of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Platform Committee. Alvin sends his condolences to those close to him. Nancy Morgan commented: “He was a very accomplished man!” Phyllis Johnson agrees he was a great man. Eddye Bexley writes: “He was also a very kind person. One consolation is that no one hurt him, and he was loved. Richard was well thought of and he lived a life full of exploring, teaching, learning and giving. 

My childhood friend, Joanne Haase Bullard remembers when vacationing in Florida from North Carolina, he took me to the Columbia Restaurant to have lunch with her and her husband only to find out that I didn’t have permission to leave Tampa General. I think Richard actually sweated a few bullets, at least briefly, over that situation. 

The picture of Richard with the elf hat (see below) reminds me and maybe you of his description of the accident scene when he was a passenger in my car. He was dressed for the reception at the Gorilla Theatre for the Christmas play. When he was walking around still dressed as an elf he said he noticed all the children in the cars that had stopped were crying because they were concerned that they would not be getting any presents for Christmas “because Santa’s helper was in an accident.” He had no idea how many children he had traumatized that evening. 

My friend Margo Maseman, who lives in the Plantation of Carrollwood, remembers the many miles Richard walked with us (hardly grumbling at all) which was before my accident. It was through this accident report that the HC Sheriff Detective was able to contact me. 

One incident I will never forget is when we were shopping at Office Depot one December, he bought me a hand held back massager. It was one of those things that didn’t come in a box and would have been a stocking stuffer except it was probably too large. I asked him if he was going to wrap that gift. He immediately started “rapping” with a cute ditty that rhymed. The cashier almost split her sides she thought it was so funny. 

My genealogy friend, Marie Nations was concerned about him having family (as was the medical examiner). I was able to find the two cousins that I knew about and have learned there are more. I informed the Medical Examiner of the two cousins within 24 hours of him giving me the correct information that he had gotten from Richard’s personal belongings. 

Richard was a member of a Fantasy Football group, known as Latin American Football League (LAFL) that met at CDB’s Pizza on Fowler for years. He would write the newsletter for that group which was a riot to read, proving how clever he was. He also could choose his team from memory, while the rest would be using magazines, newspaper articles, etc. according to Ed Newberg. His involvement with that group began when they would attend football games together, tailgating for hours before the game as described by Sharon, wife of Ed Newberg. Augie Quintero has fond memories of Richard. Ed and Augie were business acquaintances. 

I have a Family Tree for Richard Brooks on Ancestry.com which I have done in his memory. He was an only child, from a broken home. and never married. You would never know this from the pleasant attitude Richard had about life. Sally Ordway states: “I think this is a warm and personal account of his life and interests, and I would hope someone would do the same for me if I died under those circumstances” in response to the first E-mail I sent. She added: “It would really be a shame if someone who was such an interesting person didn’t have someone to acknowledge his passing and the impact he made. Brava for this effort.” My thesbian friend, Denise Deneen, writes: “Please be thankful that he passed at home, in his own bed. What a gift he was to have received such a peaceful passing. That in itself, tells me he was a wonderful soul. His smile will always be in your heart.” I hope the same for the rest of you. 

My sister is having a hard time dealing with Richard’s death too. He seemed to understand her animals. Once he interrupted her while she was watching television. He said her two dogs and who knows how many cats looked at him as if to say: “Are you talking to her while she is watching her soaps. Are you out of your mind?” Another sister, Kathleen Mason, suggested eating fish at her fishfry in his memory. He would have loved being there. He will be missed there too. My sister-in-law, Susan McCoy expressed concerns about having a funeral. She is disappointed that we were not included. 

Richard was a member of the Tampa PC Users Group (www.TPCUG.com). Ron Weinberg remembers him as my good and accomplished friend who was not spared from the life cycle. William LaMartin remembers Richard at the meetings and taking the bigger-than-life photos as you can see below. The last few years he grew a beard so if you are into photoshop you can add one if you like. He would like that.

 I hope I didn’t leave any commas out of the above as Richard was always adding commas when he edited my stuff.  

William LaMartin writes: “Here are a couple photos, reduced for email, of Richard that I took at meetings.” These same pictures have been added to his family tree on Ancestry.com

RB002    

 

                       

 

 

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