"You must continue to fight the good fight" was the last directive Dean Brooks voiced to his family and friends before passing on Thursday, May 30, 2013. He was surrounded by his beloved family while his body slipped away. His spirit and mind never faltered; his passion for life and service will continue to live on.
Dean K. Brooks, MD
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 first chair of the orchestra and band at University of Kansas (KU) as an undergraduate. His music talent helped finance his medical school by playing big band music.
While a senior at KU medical school he met and married the love of his life, Ulista J. (Moser) Brooks. Ulista was 19 years old, a nursing student, and they were married 6 weeks after meeting. They shared their lives in a unique way...through discussion (sometimes loud) and learning with each other. Dean joined the Navy after his medical internship for WWII and at 23 years old, served as the medical triage officer for a battle fleet in the South Pacific. He witnessed 7 major battles and viewed the flag being raised from a landing craft on Iwo Jima. He continued to serve in the Naval Reserves and retired as a Captain.
After the war, Dean was steered into psychiatry by a Commanding Officer. He served veterans at American Lake in Tacoma, WA eventually coming to the Oregon State Hospital (OSH) in Salem, OR in 1947. He soon became the Superintendent and served patients, their 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.
Dean's godson, Mark Ellington, Laird of Towie Barclay, Scotland, best put it, "Dean taught me to
be outrageous...to live differently."
After retirement in 1981, Dean and Ulista moved to Santa Fe, NM loving the desert, music and artwork. However, they missed family and moved to Everett in 1982 to be close to their daughters and grandchildren.
Dean was retired from OSH, but he was never done with his advocacy for those in need...especially the homeless and incarcerated mentally ill. He was appointed by the Governor to chair the government board of the Western State Hospital, serving 12 years. He also served on Boards for Snohomish County Mental Health, Compass Health and Planned Parenthood. He was active in politics 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 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 Salem after a fall and resided in Wilson House with his beloved wife. He spent the last six months of her life reading to her and expressing their love for one another. Dean continued his advocacy for the mentally ill 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 that we correct the treatment of the mentally ill and those less fortunate; he finds our situation as dire as Dorothea Dix did in the 1800s.
Dean is preceded in death by his wife, Ulista and his son-in-law, Dr. Joe Hoover of McMinnville, OR, 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 McMinnville, India and Jim Civey of Everett; grandchildren, Sean Brooks of Salem, Sara (Civey) and Sean couch of Edmonds, WA, Ian and Stephanie Civey of Everett, 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 also be missed by nieces, nephews and cousins.
Dean's last words were, "I love you all". We will miss you Deaner...diggity diggity de de!
Services will be held on June 22, 2013 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Salem, OR. A Celebration of Life is planned in Everett in August. He will be interred with Ulista at Williamette National Cemetery with Military Honors in the future.
In lieu of flowers, Dean would have appreciated your support fo the following: Housing Hope of Everett, Music Ministry of St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Salem, OR, Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health, Salem or Mid-Williamette Hospice, Salem.
Published in The Herald (Everett) on June 16, 2013