Dr. Robert C. Brooks
Dr. Robert C. Brooks

West Des Moines

Robert C. Brooks was born January 2, 1936 in the family farm house in Newton, IL and grew up in Milan, IL. He died July 14 at Kavanagh House of congestive heart failure, preceded by a ten-month battle with pancreatic/lung/rib cancer.

Bob was the third child of Nel and Charles Brooks (both deceased). His brother, Bill Brooks (Pat), of Ellicott City, MD and his sister Marjorie (Bub) Roquet of Aledo, IL, and their families survive him.

Bob graduated from Rock Island High School in 1953 - and was proud to say that he attended every single high school reunion held from 1958-2013. In 2001, he was inducted into the RIHS Alumni Hall of Fame. Bob received a BS Degree in Physical Education from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN in 1957. He was recognized as a Varsity football player all four years. In 1962, he obtained his MA Degree in Physical Education from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA and then in 1974 an Educational Administration Specialist Degree from Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa in 1977. He began his teaching career in Riverdale, IL, and then moved on to Moline High School. During those years, he was a teacher, coach, Athletic Director, Dean of Students, Administrative Assistant, and Assistant Principal. From 1978 to 2000, Bob was the Principal of Valley High School in West Des Moines, IA. Bob loved his years at Valley and all that was accomplished under his leadership. His Valley "family" was so important to him, and every success that students and colleagues achieved gave him great pride. During his time as Principal, he received much recognition for his work - from the School Administrators of Iowa (Principal of the Year 1993, Arts Administrator of the Year 2000), the CIML (for dedication and leadership), the WDM Chamber of Commerce (2000), and the Educator of Distinction Award from Coca-Cola in 2000. A highlight of his career was being invited in 1987 by Vice-President George Bush to represent U.S. educators at a breakfast meeting at the Soviet Embassy with Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa. Another highlight was when the Valley Music Department was honored with the first GRAMMY Signature School award in 1999, and he and music educators from Valley were able to attend this prestigious ceremony. The balance and continuous excellence - in what Bob coined "The Four A's: academics, athletics, arts, and activities" - was the hallmark of Bob's career as Principal of Valley High School.

Upon his retirement from public education, Bob served as the NCA CASI Iowa State Director (AdvancED) from 2000 to 2008. Prior to this, he was an active volunteer in Regional Accreditation, serving six years on the NCA Iowa State Committee, nine years on the NCA Board of Trustees, (Chair of the NCA Commission on Schools and then President of NCA during its Centennial). He also served 11 years on the (NSSE), National Study for School Evaluation, Board of Directors, which has since been imbedded into the AdvancEd organization. He chaired or co-chaired and served on numerous visits for Iowa and other state public and private schools, as well as many other countries for SACS schools, for the Department of Defense (DoDDS) schools throughout Europe and the Pacific, and DEDESS schools in the states.

Bob married Mary Welgos Curtin in 1987. Their professional lives as educators brought them together, but it was their desire to achieve "the ultimate partnership, which is the acceptance and love that we have for each other" that secured the bond (words taken from the wedding vows they wrote). They shared many common interests and aspirations, especially after they moved to Glen Oaks Country Club in 1996. Golf was a passion for both, and Bob volunteered his time and talents to the Principal Charity Classic, serving as starter for 12 years. He also served as the Chairman of the Glen Oaks Board of Directors in 1999 and 2003. He was currently serving as the Head of the Management Team for the Townhomes of Glen Oaks and as a member of the Glen Oaks Homeowners Association Board. Other volunteer positions Bob enjoyed were serving as an official at the Drake Relays for over 15 years and serving on the City of West Des Moines Board of Adjustment from 2003-2010.

After Mary retired in 2008, Bob and Mary transitioned to life in Naples, FL. The winter months spent there, enjoying time with friends, were among their happiest days. All those who knew Bob well knew his passions: Jack Daniels (getting a tattoo of Old # 7 shortly after he retired from Valley), being well-dressed (acquired from the many years of working in Mosenfelder's Men's Clothing Store in the Quad Cities), politics (all things Republican), fishing (having spent many, many years at a family cabin in MN), reading (sharing books with a myriad of friends), football (Iowa Hawkeyes, Green Bay Packers, and Valley Tigers), the Associates Breakfast Club (events and trips with members and serving as President in 1999-2000 and 2008-2009), riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and staying connected with family and friends.

Bob is survived by his wife, Mary, two adopted children, Craig Brooks and Kristin Keller (James) and his step-daughter, Carly Stahn (Matt). He also is survived by four grandchildren: Ashley and Zachary Stolbom and Emmerson and Sicily Stahn. Bob was a generous, forgiving, supportive and loving father and grandfather. In Bob's honor and memory, Mary has written a children's book "Bampa's Bag", which shares the story of the Stahn girls' tangible support and love given to Bob during his chemo journey from October-April. It will be published in the fall of 2014.

Per his wishes, Bob has been cremated. There will be no visitation. A private family service was held at Lutheran Church of Hope. A memorial Celebration of Life reception will take place at Glen Oaks Country Club from 1-4 on July 20. All who knew Bob and were touched by him are invited. Special thanks to Dr. Tom Buroker and the John Stoddard Cancer Center, Dr. Tom Brown and the Iowa Heart Center, HCI (Hospice Care Services), and all other medical professionals who gave Bob comfort and hope during this past year. Also, a very heartfelt thanks to the thousands of written messages that were shared this past year, expressing love and respect for Bob. It was a blessing for him to hear all of these thoughts and personal memories. From these, he knew the impact that he had on so many and allowed him to know that his life made a difference.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the John Stoddard Cancer Center, American Heart Association, the WDM Community Schools Student Scholarship Foundation (to be applied to a restricted use "Dr. Robert C. Brooks" Valley High School scholarship and sent to Cindy Todd, Treasurer, 4928 Cherrywood Place, WDM, IA 50265) or HCI Care Services of Central Iowa.

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Published by the Des Moines Register from Jul. 15 to Jul. 20, 2014.
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36 Entries
Every time I hoist a really fine whiskey, I pause and think of Bob. I am grateful for the occasions when I could share a libation and a laugh with him. His joie de vivre lives on in us. I will be toasting him on this day of remembrance. May his memory be eternal!
Brian Sietsema
July 9, 2019
Mary, thinking of you and praying that his peace and comfort remain in you.
maria hennings
May 17, 2017
Dr. Brooks was my principal when I attended Valley High School. I can only remember him as the Valley High School Principal because my father Ken Wallace (known as Wally), Dr. Brooks, myself, and others would go pheasant hunting on opening day every year (even when I was very young). When I think of my high school, I think of Dr. Brooks, Pam Wymer, Dr. Bushyeager, Mr. Taberalla, Coach France, and all the other great teachers and administrators we had.

Dr. Brook was there at Valley High School the day my dad's life was celebrated before he past away, and I will never forget it. He walked me up and down the halls, sharing stories and fond memories of Valley. He walked me into the swimming pool, where I spent most of time, and said, "remember this?" I often think about the great school that was provided for not only me, but my sisters, my dad, and my mom. We are tigers until we die.

Thank you Dr. Brooks for everything.
Jim Wallace
May 13, 2017
Dear Mary & Carli -

You know how much I loved Dr. B.! Dr. Brooks, for better or for worse :-), gave me my start in school administration by seeing more in me and my future than I deserved or had earned. My family and I will be forever linked with Dr. Brooks as we are thankful for how God's Spirit spoke to him and told him to encourage and strengthen me and to bless my family.

The Dr. Bob that I got to know was gentle, loving, generous and caring and daily shared his love for his wife and children. Dr. Brooks was a giver and my friend.

I look forward to greeting Dr. Brooks at the gates of heaven. I can't wait to see those caring blue eyes and to see him reaching out to me with both hands (as he always did) leading to a hug between two men that love and respect each other.

Thank you, Dear Heavenly Father, for blessing me and my family by placing Dr. Robert C. Brooks into my life and for leading him to blessing me with his trust and friendship. Dear Jesus, please be with Mary and Carli now as they miss Dr. Brooks and are looking forward to seeing him again in your presence. It is in the Mighty Name of Christ Jesus that I pray and thank you for Dr. Robert C. Brooks. Amen

Kent, Lynn Marie, Kale, and Kaya Abrahamson
K. Abe
July 31, 2014

I was sorry to hear about Bob's passing. However, it was good to see you on Monday in Des Moines. Time goes very fast. It seems like yesterday that we were all much younger and working in West Des Moines. It was a pleasure to work with Bob and with you --- two top-notch educators. Best of luck to you in the future.

Harrison Cass
July 24, 2014
I'm sad to hear of Dr. Brooks passing. I will always remember how he would be in the hallway every passing period at Valley just to talk with us students and be a positive impact on our lives. My thoughts and prayers go to the family.
Jessica Nisly
July 23, 2014
Dear Mary and family: I was so saddened to hear this news today from my mom. You all know how special Dr. Brooks and you were in our young lives in West Des Moines. I have such fond memories of Valley and our special community in the 1980s. My heartfelt sympathy and love to you all.
Sad Sayeed
July 22, 2014
Kristen, Craig, and family. I am sorry to hear about the loss of a great man. He will be missed but will be forever in our hearts and memories.
Linda Johnson-Overton-Hoffman
July 22, 2014
My thoughts and condolences go out to my friend Craig and his family. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your father. He was a great man. I have many memories of him from when I went to Valley and after high school.
Ed Newman
July 20, 2014
My prayers and condolences go out to my dear friend Craig and his family. I just found out about this and I'm very sorry for your loss.
April Shindelar
July 20, 2014
Our love and prayers to everyone of the Brooks family!!! The entire Brooks family is a dear friend to Jack during his life in Milan and Rock Island High School and yet today!!! Memories are priceless and never end.. Our love to you all,
Jack & Jan Fitzpatrick
July 18, 2014
My condolences to the Brooks family. May you find comfort from God's word recorded at Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10 regarding the loss of your love one.
July 17, 2014
Mary, Carly, and Family: Your loss of this vital and loving husband, father, grandfather, family man, and faithful friend is shared and deeply felt by so many of us who knew him as "Bob"--the gentle person with the hearty hand
shake and the ready smile. Thank you for sharing Bob and his love with all of us. May the Lord's peace that passes
all understanding continue to comfort and bless you all.

The Ed Low Family
Boulder, Colorado
July 17, 2014
I was very sad to learn of Dr. Brooks passing. He was a great man and I have fond memories of him being the principal at Valley when I attended. I also had the very delightful Mary Curtin (before Brooks) as my drama teacher at Indian Hills. What a great couple...sending you hugs Mary.
Daniel Garrett
July 17, 2014
Our condolences from the Byron Voss family of Chariton, Iowa. We knew Chuck, Nell, and Bob and Bill and families from our cabins on Crow Wing 1. What a stellar career Bob had! Sounds like he made quite an impact on everyones's life.
July 17, 2014
Peace Be With You.
Dave & Maria Hennings
July 17, 2014
I count it a real privilege in this life that I got to know Bob through Mary and the Spelling Bee. What a gracious, big-hearted, wonderful man! I will miss sharing a cocktail with him after the competition. May his memory be eternal.
Brian and Kathy Sietsema
July 16, 2014
Dr. Brooks was my principal at Valley and I always felt like he was my biggest supporter in everything I did. My mom worked at Valley for years and always talked about what a great boss he was. He and mom are probably having a reunion right now. My prayers to the family.
Jay Hatch
July 16, 2014
Mary, I remember my time as your student fondly and always liked "Dr. Brooks." I can't bring myself to call him Bob. (except there) Not every student likes their Principal, I did. I always thought he was a pretty good guy. Thankfully, I was able to stay out of his office for any of the usual reasons. My thoughts go out to you and your family.
John Bryant
July 15, 2014
Knowing you, Bob, enriched my life. Rest in peace and be in His Presence, my friend.
Jim Caterine
July 15, 2014
Nancy and I live in Mesquite, Nevada and heard just a week ago of Bob's health battle. Bob was an inspiration to both of us. He taught Nancy's first grade class at Crossroads Park Elementary during "Teacher for a Day" and loved the experience. We send our sincere condolences.
Arlis Swartzendruber
July 15, 2014
My heart goes out to you and family.i know what it feels like.my best. Tom copps
Tom Copps
July 15, 2014
Mary, Craig and Kristen

My Dad called to let me know about Bob. I am so saddened to hear this and my deepest sympathies go out to your entire family. My fondest memories of Bob are up at the cabin in Minnesota every summer with our families when I was growing up. Bob was such a compassionate and genuine person and I don't think my father could have asked for a better friend. Whenever I saw him throughout the years, he always made a point of engaging in thoughtful conversation. Bob was a man with many accomplishments but I know that family and friends were most important to him. Your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Kristin Purtell (Johnson)
July 15, 2014
Mary, been keeping up to date through your mother. The world will miss Bob, Heaven got a gem. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers are sent to you and your family. Be well. Tim, Michele, Grady Becker
Tim Becker
July 15, 2014
Bob started at Valley my freshman year and I found him to be a compassionate and caring principal. In recent years he would greet you with a handshake or hug and have a genuine interest in you as a person. Peace to the family in this time of loss.
Scott Stilwell
July 15, 2014
I was taught by Mrs. Brooks in Junior High School, and Dr. Brooks was my principal to follow at Valley. What I remember most as a student who didn't know him personally is that he was always seemed to be smiling and engaged with the students. He clearly had a passion for what he did, and it showed. As an adult I realize what a gift that is to pass along to all of us. After the reading about him I wish I couldn't have a Jack with him (post Valley of course). My thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Brooks and the rest of the family.
All the best,
- Jaime
Jaime Anglada
July 15, 2014
Mary --

Please know that we are holding you in our thoughts and prayers. Bob's impact on our community will live on for generations. He lived such a noble life, making sure decades of children had the best opportunities imaginable.

Sending our love to you!
Drew McLellan
July 15, 2014
I was taught my Mrs. Curtain-Brooks in junior high school and Dr. Brooks was my principal at Valley to follow. I think the best thing I can say as a former student who didn't know him personally, is that he was always smiling. He always seemed happy to be there among us. He always seemed to be teaching, leading and guiding. As an adult I realize what a gift that is to pass along to us. I send thoughts and prayers to Mrs. Brooks and the rest of the family.
All the best,
- Jaime Anglada
Jaime Anglada
July 15, 2014
I moved to Des Moines in 1994 to begin working with a local photography company. Working with Bob was always a pleasure. He was both kind and professional, demanding the same of me. After he retired, and I saw him while traveling, he was still kind and generous. He leaves behind a good legacy.
Mark Hommerding
July 15, 2014
Dearest Mary, Carly and families,

Our hearts are literally breaking for you during this dark time. Dr. Brooks was a leader and man loved by all that met him. Our love and thoughts are surrounding you - and please know we are praying for your strength.

God Bless,
Chip & Maria Wittern and family
July 15, 2014
Bob's far-reaching impact on students, staff, parents and the community writ large is unparalleled. JD enjoyed his AdvancEd work, and, even more, golf games with Bob, and I valued him as a colleague. There is another star in the sky to bring all of you comfort and peace. Take care.
Jan & JD Beatty
July 15, 2014
Mary, Bob will be missed by many, he had such a great impact on their lives. I just wished I knew him better.

Gary Kahn
Gary Kahn
July 15, 2014
Dr. Brooks was a great leader. He will be missed and remembered by many. May you rest in peace! Prayers & thoughts for your family
Lori Harper
July 15, 2014
Mary, Carly and family I am so sorry for your loss. Bob was my principal and then hired me and I am forever grateful! He was a wonderful principal and leader. Peace to you all and thinking of you.
Martha, Jim, Bailey, Mallory & Jack Wilson
July 14, 2014
Dr. Brooks was my principal at Valley High School. I adored the man. A big school with over 2,000 students, Valley was fortunate to have Dr. Brooks as its leader. He cared deeply for his students and the school. He walked through the cafeteria at lunch time, talked to tables full of kids, knew many, many of us by our first names. He was a class act, a kind man, and will be greatly missed.

Peter Hedges, VHS Class of 1980
Peter Hedges
July 14, 2014
I'm so sorry for your loss. We had many wonderful memories with Bob and children and Nel and Chuck at the fishing cabin in Minnesota. I just heard recently of his illness, at least now he is at peace. Please give my condolences to Craig and Kristen and their children.

Beverly Johnson Hollenback
July 14, 2014
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