July 22, 1916 - May 30, 2013
SALEM - "You must continue to fight the good fight" was the final directive Dean Kent Brooks voiced to his family and friends before his passing on Thursday, May 30, 2013. He was surrounded by his beloved family while his body slipped away. His spirit never faltered, his passion for life and service will continue to live on.
Dean was born on July 22, 1916 in Colony, Kansas to Myrtle and Robert Brooks. He studied trombone as a young man, mastering this instrument and deepening his love of music. He was chosen as first orchestra chair in college at University of Kansas (KU) and his playing served him well to help finance medical school at KU. He played in a dance band, playing all the great big band music.
While a senior in medical school he met and married the love of his life, Ulista J. (Moser) Brooks. Ulista was in nursing school and they were married a mere 6 weeks after meeting. They shared their lives in a unique way…through discussion (sometimes loud) and learning from each other. Our mother would say that she raised 3 daughters and a husband! Dean agreed.
Dean joined the Navy in WWII at 23 years old serving as the triage officer for a battle fleet in the South Pacific. He witnessed all the major battles and viewed the flag raising on Iwa Jima. He remained in the Naval Reserves and retired as a Captain.
Although his dream had been a career in pediatrics, after the war, Dean went into psychiatry and eventually came to the Oregon State Hospital (OSH) in Salem, Or. in 1947. He became Superintendent and served the patients, families and the State of Oregon for 35 years. His accomplishments were noteworthy, but his manner and method were his legacy to family and community. He was innovative and a risk taker in both personal and professional undertakings.
His godson, Mark Ellington, Laird of Towie Barclay, Scotland, put it best, "Dean taught me to be outrageous… to live differently."
Colleagues throughout the nation recognize Dean a "pioneer", with his patient-centered, inclusive approach to care. His contributions to the communities he lived in were wide-ranging, from developing the Salem Pops Orchestra, to founding Willamette Valley Hospice. Everywhere he went, he made sure to include the interests of OSH, bringing the hospital into the community, and the community into the Hospital.
Dean loved the outdoors and was a climber. He climbed many of the NW alpine peaks with his daughter Ulista and led us with dear friends, the Bradys on backpacking trips; he taught us the "rest step" and demonstrated "mountain talk" to the delight of grandchildren. It was his passion that led to the 1972 Adventure Outing, featured in Life Magazine.
He retired in 1981 and moved to Santa Fe, NM, where he and Ulista loved the desert and artwork and opera. However, they missed family and moved to Everett, Wa. to be closer to family, especially the grandchildren.
Dean never ceased advocating for the mentally ill. He was appointed by the Governor …to Chair the Western State Hospital governing board and served 12 years. He also served on the Boards for Snohomish County Mental Health, Compass Health and Planned Parenthood and supported many causes and agencies.
He met and befriended hundreds of people all over the world. He treated everyone the same…always excited to share stories and to make a connection. He never forgot a name and as soon as a connection was made, you were part of his life. He had a special way of getting people to join in his passions. Jane Kirkpatrick, friend and noted Oregon author, has described Dean as "a bright sun and the rest of us orbiting his brilliance to do his bidding." The family just called him lovingly "Dean-manding".
Dean moved back to Oregon, after a fall, and resided in Willson House in Salem with his beloved wife. He spent the last 6 months of her life reading and reminiscing.
Dean continued his advocacy work until his last day. He was Chair for the Dorothea Dix Think Tank with the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. He was adamant about all our need to correct the homelessness and incarceration the mentally ill. He finds our situation as dire as did Dorothea Dix in her day.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Ulista, and his son-in-law, Dr. Joe Hoover of McMinnville, who are "having a bbq down by the river". He is survived by his brother Bob Brooks of Salem, his daughters and their families: Dennie Brooks of Salem, Ulista J. Brooks of Mc Minnville (?), India and Jim Civey of Everett, Wa; Grandchildren Sean Brooks of Salem, Sara (Civey) and Sean Couch of Edmonds, Wa. Ian and Stephanie Civey of Everett,Wa. Ulista Hoover and Chris Laroue of Spokane, Wa., and Deni Hoover and Rob Hale of Salem, and great grandchildren Reese and Mercer Couch; he will be missed by nieces and nephews and cousins in Oregon and Kansas.
Dean's last words were, "I love you all". We will miss you Deaner… diggity diggity de de!
A celebration of Dean's life will be held on Saturday, Jun 22, 2013, 3 pm at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Salem, Or. (Please make every opportunity to carpool, with able bodied people parking the farthest from the church. Thank you.) We will honor him with music and fellowship. He will be interred with his wife at Willamette National Cemetery with Military Honors at a future date.
In lieu of flowers Dean would have appreciated your support of the following: Music Ministry of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Salem, Oregon (stpaulsoregon.org); Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health, Salem, Oregon (oshmuseum.org); Mid-Willamette Hospice, Salem, Oregon (wvh.org); Housing Hope of Everett, Washington (www.housinghope.org). Arrangements are by Restlawn Memory Gardens.
Published in StatesmanJournal on June 9, 2013