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Rev. Dr. George Benjamin Brooks Sr.

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Rev. Dr. George Benjamin Brooks, Sr. Pastor, father, grandfather, community leader, civil rights activist, educator and friend, Rev. Dr. George Benjamin Brooks, Sr., peacefully went home to be with the Lord on September 26, 2007 after a nine month battle with lung cancer. Dr. Brooks was born Benjamin Harrison Brooks on January 18, 1926 in Edisto Island, South Carolina. His parents were Willie and Susie Brooks. No one is quite sure how the name George came about, however by the time he was 4 years old and according to the 1930 South Carolina census, he was listed as George Brooks. His father passed away when he and his sister, Wilhelmina were very young. Wilhelmina went to live in New York with her mother, and George stayed down South with his grandmother, Sara Brown. It was not only until her death in 1941, that he moved to New York City. In 1944, during World War II, he enlisted into the Navy. He went to basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois and was assigned to a sub-tender. After World War II, he and sister went to college on his GI Bill. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University, majoring in Pre-Law and was a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He remained active in the military, serving as a Lieutenant/Chaplin in the National Guard. He received his Master's of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary in 1951. It was in 1953 when, Presbyterian executives approached the now Rev. Brooks and persuaded him to come to Arizona and start the first African American Presbyterian Church in Arizona. Besides pastoring his growing congregation at Southminster Presbyterian Church, he began to campaign civil rights causes in Phoenix, serving as President of the NAACP from 1964 to 1972. It was also during this time period that he ran into a child who had flunked kindergarten because he couldn't read. This child's situation troubled him and began looking for funding in the Phoenix area for a public preschool. Since this funding was not available, he went back east and found others who had similiar ideas. Along with these people, he wrote 70 percent of the federal legislation that was to become HEADSTART. He received a Master's of Education from ASU in 1973, and in 1976, Rev. Brooks, became Dr. Brooks, receiving in PhD in Ministry and Counseling from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Additionally, he received and a Doctor of Divinity Degree (Honoris Causa) from Johnson C. Smith Seminary in 1995. After retiring from Southminster Presbyterian Church in 1996, Dr. Brooks kept himself busy by playing golf, buying and selling houses and traveling. In June of this year a he traveled to Alaska, thus reaching his goal of seeing all 50 states. Dr. Brooks was preceded in death by his father, mother and sister. He leaves behind his loving wife of 53 years, Lula, his son George Jr., his daughter Susan Morris, his five cherished granddaughters, LuLaura Garie, Haley Brooks, Amber Stanford, Hasina Brooks and Miracle Morris along with a nost of cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, collegues and admirers. Dr. Brooks will lie in state at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 1923 E. Broadway Rd., Phoenix, Az on Thursday, October 4, 2007 from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Funeral Services will be Friday, October 5, 2007 at 11:00 am with a viewing from 9:00 am.-10:45 am. at Historic First Presbyterian Church, 402 W. Monroe St., Phoenix, Az. Interment at Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery. Services entrusted to Universal Memorial Center 602-252-6011.

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Published in The Arizona Republic on Oct. 3, 2007
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