Melvin L. Brooks, 96, a longtime resident of Los Alamos, passed away on May 12, 2014 of natural causes. He was preceded in death by his wife Alma C. Brooks. He is survived by his son James Brooks and Janet Patten of Alligator Point, Fla.; daughter Marcia De Leon, son-in-law Roger DeLeon of Edgewood, N.M.; daughter Marla Brooks and grandson James Brooks of Los Alamos.
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Mel was a senior leader during the golden age of nuclear weapons science from the Manhattan project under Robert Oppenheimer and through the leadership of such giants as Norris Bradbury, Harold Agnew and Duncan MacDougall. He has been at the forefront of nuclear weapons R&D from World War II through the Cold War as a member of the "greatest generation".
Mr. Brooks came to Los Alamos in 1944 as part of the Manhattan Project as a chemical engineer. His original McKibbin card indicates he arrived in Los Alamos with his wife, infant son, and Robert Bacher from Chicago. He directed the group at S-Site for many years, after which he served several roles in W-Division. In 1982, Melvin Brooks was recognized for his achievements by then DOE Secretary James B. Edwards which states "In recognition of outstanding contributions to the nuclear weapons program of the Department of Energy. During his service with the Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1944, his accomplishments in planning, developing and engineering of weapons systems have resulted in significant benefit to the Nation's defense and security."
Mr. Brooks held many positions during his long career at Los Alamos. He served as Group Leader of X-2 (Explosives Research), GMX-2 (Explosives R&D), and GMX-3 (High Explosives and Implosion Systems), as well as Associate Division Leader, and Alternate Division Leader. He served on the Director's Staff in the 1980's. He held a Security Clearance for over 70 years.
Mel was chairman of the Weapons Program Review Committee that had day to day leadership responsibility for the whole Los Alamos nuclear weapons program.
He was greatly respected in Los Alamos by both the technical and residential communities, and as a husband, father, and grandfather, was exemplary in his unending support, care, understanding, patience and encouragement to his family. He was an avid supporter of the Santa Fe Opera, holding season tickets for many years, and a contributor to many charities and foundations. He cherished his many years of living in Los Alamos and working at the Laboratory.
A Funeral Mass in his honor will be held in Los Alamos at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 19 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 3580 Canyon Road, to be followed by a reception at the Parish Hall. Internment will follow at Guaje Pines Cemetery in Los Alamos.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Mr. Brooks name to the Lupus Foundation of America: 2000 L St., N.W., Suite 410, Washington, D.C. 20036; an Animal Shelter or Humane Society of your choice, or Wounded Warrior Project.
The family of Melvin L. Brooks has entrusted the care of their loved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of the Espanola Valley. 1-505-662-2400 or devarasfuneral.com.
DeVargas Funeral Home
623 N. Railroad Ave. Espanola, NM 87532
Published in Los Alamos Monitor from May 18 to May 19, 2014