Dodson, Charles Brooks
Charles Brooks Dodson, Professor Emeritus of English, passed away on September 15, 2013, at the Mayo Clinic from complications following open heart surgery. The son of Charles and Mabel Dodson, Brooks was born on August 30, 1937, in Gary, IN, where he spent his formative years developing a love of books and music, intriguing his younger sister with his magic tricks, amazing his parents with his talents, and as the drum major, leading his high school band to the state championship. As a first-generation college graduate, he double majored in music and English at DePauw University.
After earning his Masters degree in English from Indiana University and his PhD in English from the University of Nebraska, Brooks taught literature and composition at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, where he caught the eye of his fellow teacher Mary Kay Duex. He always said that marrying her was "the smartest thing I ever did."
Brooks and Mary Kay, who shared 44 years of marriage, raised two smart, caring children. After 25 years at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he first chaired the English Department and later headed its graduate and creative writing programs, Brooks and Mary Kay returned to their Midwestern roots.
Their retirement in Green Bay, WI, brought them great joy as they taught classes for seniors, did volunteer work, traveled around the US and to Europe and Canada, played thousands of hands of bridge, delighted in their grandchildren, reconnected with friends and relatives, and rooted for the Packers.
Who was Brooks? A peerless husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, and friend. A scholar, a storyteller, and a peacemaker par excellence. An enthusiastic racquetball player, a multi-talented musician (saxophone, clarinet, piano) and classical music deejay, and a long-suffering Green Bay Packer fan. A bibliophile who relished a good WWII spy novel as much as his beloved 19th century classics, he was always looking forward to his next book.
They don't make'em like Brooks Dodson any more—he did things the right way because that's the way they were supposed to be done, worked hard because that's the way you're supposed to work--but he also wasn't afraid to play the rogue to get a rise out of people (especially his wife), and he loved to eat and could take a nap like nobody's business.
Missing him deeply but cherishing his memory are his wife Mary Kay, his daughter Sarah (husband Edward Knight) and son Matthew, his grandchildren Griffin and Gwyneth Knight, and his sister Linda Fry (partner Colette Lewandowski). Brooks is survived by not just his family and friends, but the thousands of students whose lives he touched, the community organizations he supported, and all the others upon whom his wit, wisdom, and work ethic had an impact.
Brooks had a rich and meaningful life, and we are all better for the legacy of equanimity and compassion he leaves us with. As a colleagues once overheard a student say, "Dr. Dodson is a really decent person."
The family wishes to thank the caring medical staff at Mayo, including a fantastic cadre of nurses. A further thank you goes to Dr. Randolph Chitwood at East Carolina Medical Center, who performed amazing cardiac surgery in 2001 that enabled Brooks to enjoy 12 more years of life.
Brooks' family and friends will celebrate his life at a memorial service to be held in Green Bay, WI, at The Rock Garden, 1951 Bond Street, on October 5 at 11:00 AM. The service will be followed by a party, which Brooks requested. In lieu of flowers, the Dodson family would be very pleased if you could help spread his love of learning by contributing to the scholarship that he established for UNCW English majors (visit https://tswww.uncw.edu/giving/ to donate online or to print the form to send with a check).
Published in Green Bay Press-Gazette from Sept. 20 to Oct. 3, 2013