“He just was a gentle soul,” Doyle said. “Saying he was beloved by everybody was an understatement. . . . He just was sagely and so even-keeled that he could offer advice that many people said changed their lives.”
Brooks often got a flu when the seasons changed, and when he developed a cough in early October he insisted it was not serious.
But “he just laid there, and that’s not like him,” recalled his wife, Gloria Brooks. When he wasn’t working, her husband was “a fixer-upper” — always improving their Brookland house in some way. She persuaded him to see a doctor, and he was hospitalized immediately. She never saw him alive again; he died Oct. 24.
Brooks grew up in a sharecropping family in Natchez, Miss. He met his future wife in the two-room schoolhouse where his mother taught. In 1963, he and his younger brother were arrested