PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

December 10, 2012

Brooks remembered as hero to nation, SETX

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

BEAUMONT — Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate the life of Texas Congressman Jack Brooks and share memories of the man described as tough, tenacious and fiercely loyal.

A well worn hat and a cigar lay on a table flanked by two framed photos of Brooks and floral arrangements adorned the space nearby inside Lamar University’s Montagne Center in Beaumont on Sunday. The site for the services was chosen for Brooks’ connection to and love of the university, having drafted legislation to elevate Lamar from a two-year college to a full four-year college more than six decades ago.

One by one dignitaries took to the microphone to speak about the man who touched so many lives.

State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, recalled a humorous story Brooks once told of being stopped for speeding by a young Department of Public Safety officer. Informing the trooper that he was Congressman Jack Brooks was not enough to get him out of the ticket.

“I hope he’s enjoying winters in Daleheart,” Deshotel said.

It was well known that some in Washington D.C., Republicans in particular, had a tendency to call Brooks an “SOB.”

“I asked him how can you take that?” Deshotel said adding that Brooks interpreted “SOB” as “Sweet Old Brooks.”

Former State Sen. Carl Parker said the worth of a man is not what he accumulates in life but what he gives.

Brooks, he said, helped provide a number of people with educational opportunities because of Lamar University. He was also courageous in that he was the only Southern congressman to vote for the Civil Rights Act.

Parker told the story of a person whose relative died on foreign soil. One call from Brooks and the body was extracted from that country and sent back to the U.S.

Former Congressman Nick Lampson remembered Brooks from 1969 when he was trying to land an internship. He soon learned Brooks to be a no nonsense person who could get the job done.

“He once told me to always carry a briefcase and walk fast even if you’re going to the bathroom,” Lampson said with a chuckle.

Lampson recalled a myriad of cases in which Brooks helped those in need. The father of a dying adult child once called his office needing help. The family had been denied Social Security for the family member so Brooks got on the phone and convinced the office to grant the family the benefits.

“This allowed the family time to focus on the needs of the daughter who died one week later,” Lampson said.

Thad Heartfield, Eastern District of Texas federal judge, spoke of Brooks as an uncompromising man who wasn’t shy to fight the hard fight.

“The Congressman’s thumbprint can be found on every major federal project around,” Heartfield said crediting Brooks with critical flood protection for the area and for standing up to the Corps of Engineers during a legal fight over Taylor Bayou.

Beaumont Attorney Hubert Oxford touted Brooks as a national hero and a hero to Southeast Texas.

He served as a marine during World War II and during his tenure in congress made a stand for racial equality by refusing to sign the infamous “Southern Manifesto.” He also worked to pass programs including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Act of 1965.

“During the summer of 2011 the Neches River ran dry and there was not enough water to supply the municipal needs of the county,” Oxford said. “If you used water then you owe it to Jack Brooks. He had the foresight to built the Sam Rayburn Dam and salt water barrier.”

Brooks’ children, Kate Carroll, Kim Brooks and Jeb Brooks, told of their love for the man who made them what they are today.

Brooks is survived by his wife of 52 years, Charlotte Brooks, sister Marie Manry, daughter and son-in-law Kate and Rod Carroll, their children Matthew and Brooke, daughter Kim Brooks, and son and daughter-in-law Jeb and Janice Brooks.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews