Brook, Elizabeth C. "Betty"
Oct 15, 1919 - Nov 13, 2020
Longtime Sarasota resident Betty Brook passed away peacefully on November 13, 2020 in Sarasota, Florida. She was 101 years old.
Born Elizabeth Carothers Brook on October 15, 1919 in Stronghurst, Illinois, to John Cecil Brook and Maude Simonson Brook, Betty was the "baby" to five older siblings — Gail, John, Sarah, Herbert, Edith.
She graduated from Stronghurst High School and continued her education at Knox College in Galeburg, Ill., where she was an active, and lifelong member of TriDelta Sorority, graduating with a BA in History degree.
Following college she taught history for a year. But she was already thinking of travel, and during WWII she joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), part of the US Naval Reserve, and attained the rank Lieutenant Junior Grade, serving in Washington, DC. After the war ended she joined the US State Department Foreign Service where she worked in various capacities for 28 years.
During her career with the Foreign Service she was posted all over the world and served in many of the hotspots of the day, including Nigeria, Venezuela, Turkey, Morocco, Kenya and Germany. She was the Secretary to Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in Saigon, Vietnam, when the embassy was bombed, for which she received a medal for Civilian Service. She said her favorite posting was in Beirut, Lebanon in the late 1940s. She was always circumspect about what happened during her postings and would sometimes sum up her jobs with a smile saying, "We worked hard and we played hard!"
Betty retired in 1984 to Sarasota, Florida, where she volunteered for several arts organizations and her sorority, and played golf and contract bridge. She was a member of the Church of the Palms in Sarasota. She decorated her house with art and artifacts brought back from the many places she lived. In 2006 she moved to the Glenridge on Palmer Ranch, where she lived the rest of her life. She never married.
For many years Betty returned to her hometown of Stronghurst every summer. It fell to Betty to clean up several old barns and implements on the family farm in Raritan Township, earning her the family nickname, "Bulldozer Betty."
Friends and family remember Betty as lively, polite and elegant. She was an accomplished contract bridge player and could be cut-throat when needed. She enjoyed a daily glass of "Char-don-nay", as she pronounced it with a twinkle in her eye.
In 2013 she told a reporter, 'I spent 28 years traveling the world. I grew up in a little town and always said, 'I'm going to get out of here', and I did… I'm the type of person who enjoys whatever she's doing; it makes life easier. Wherever I went, I found a nice group of people. I always had friends. I think it's true in life that friends are the most important."
Betty is remembered fondly by her many nieces and nephews, Elaine Harwood, Anne Burket, Margaret Boyce, John, David and Susan Brook; grand nieces Sherryanne Porter and Betsy Boyce; and grand nephew James Brook, as well as several great grand nieces and nephews.
She will be buried at the Brook family plot at the Stronghurst Cemetery.
Published in Herald Tribune from Nov. 23 to Nov. 29, 2020.