Gordon H. Brooks 90 of Brewster died Thursday, November 24, 2011 in McCarthy Care Center, Sandwich, MA. He was the husband of the late Christine (Foss) Brooks, who died January 19, 2011. For over 54 years, he drew a weekly cartoon for the Cape Codder under the title BROOKS LOOKS.
Mr. Brooks grew up in Cherry Valley, outside of Worcester, MA, and graduated from Clark University in 1942. In his senior year he was elected to Gryphon, the Senior Honorary Society, and listed in WHO’S WHO AMONG STUDENTS IN AMERICAN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. When World War II came, he was drafted and assigned to the Army Specialized Training Program to be trained as a French interpreter with the Free French. He attended Stetson College in Deland, FL, Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC. When Congress discontinued the Program, Mr. Brooks was transferred to the Signal Corps and served in Europe with the 25th Heavy Construction Battalion which was building a telephone line from Saabrucken to Berlin. Mr. Brooks was a topographical draftsman who inspected the line and produced progress reports. When the war with Germany ended in April, 1945, Mr. Brooks was being transferred to the Far East through the United States when he was assigned to the Pentagon to do whatever artwork was required in the preparation of Air Force reports of bombing in the Pacific. After discharge from the Army in 1946, Mr. Brooks attended the School of Practical Art in Boston under the G I Bill, completing the three year course in two years and graduating at the head of his class.
His first job as commercial artist was for M. B. Claff in Brockton, MA illustrating women’s shoe boxes. After a year, he moved to New York City where he held a variety of commercial art positions including cartoon animation and comic book illustrations.
In addition to his artistic career, Mr. Brooks was a professional violinist and cornetist, playing both classical music and jazz. He had had no formal training on the cornet but learned the instrument listening to live musicians and their recordings. He played in the Worcester Philharmonic under Walter Howe, the Brockton Philharmonic under Rodney May, and in Manhattan the Riverside Symphony under Royston Nash.
He met Christine Foss at the Riverside Church and together they co-edited a Riverside Church publication called Horizons. They were married on March 8, 1952 and began a greeting card business in their apartment with Gordon doing the designing and printing by the silk-screen process while Christine attended to the clerical needs. They sold nationwide through manufacturers’ representatives Grace Reichgott. Gordon and Christine moved to Yonkers, NY and then to Cape Cod, arriving on July 25, 1956, the day the Andrea Doria went down. They focused their greeting card line on Christmas cards selling from their shop in Brewster and by mail-order reaching customers as far away as Hawaii. Their son Paul was born on February 4, 1959.
Mr. Brooks played in the Chatham Band for 21 years and organized a six-piece Dixieland band called The Clamshack Serenaders that play widely on Cape Cod from 1984 to 1998. For over 10 years he played violin at services at the First Parish Church in Brewster. For 34 years, he played cornet for carolers in front of the Brewster General Store and for 34 years he played in Chatham for Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies. He performed 50 Brunch Musicales on both violin and cornet with Olive Cahoon as piano accompanist and almost as many Mid-morning Musicales at the Brewster Ladies’ Library with Susan Godoy on piano. In later years, he played with the Sentimental Journey Dance band with Henry Fischer leader.
In 1959 Mr. Brooks organized the Brewster Citizens Group, hired Atty. Daniel Fern and drew up Brewster’s first zoning by-law. The Selectman and Planning Board were both opposed to it but it was adopted by the Town at a special town meeting. The Cape Cod National Seashore was established soon after. Mr. Brooks was zoning agent for five years and was chairman of the Board of Appeals from the same length of time. The Brewster Selectman appointed Mr. Brooks to be the Town’s representative joining others in drawing up the Historic District Bill. Mr. Brooks also founded the Brewster Historical Society in 1964 and was its president for five years. He felt the passage of the Brewster Zoning By-Laws was the most satisfying achievement of his career as it insured that Brewster would retain its rural and scenic appearance. He was also chairman of Brewster’s Boy Scout Troop 73 troop committee.
Mr. Brooks’ favorite jazz cornetists were Bix Beiderbecks and Bobby Hackett. This year after Bobby’s death on June 7, 1976 he began playing one of his solos, a different one each year, at his grave in Seaside Cemetery in Chatham. He played Bobby’s solos note for note taken from his recordings and memorized. Christine was with him at the grave each year rain or shine. He was an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, which baffled both the fans and psychologists.
Mr. Brooks had begun drawing cartoons for The Cape Codder in March of 1957. His cartoons have appeared in over 30 books, magazines, and other publications.
Gordon and Christine ended their Christmas card business at the end of 1983 and Mr. Brooks opened a gallery of his own watercolors and other artwork at his home in Brewster.
He leaves his son Paul of Brooklyn, NY; a brother Stanley Brooks of SC; two nephews, Donald Brooks of NC, and Dr. Frank Bender of CA, and two nieces, Joan Wetzel and Caroline Tricca both of MA.
His Memorial Visitation will be held on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 from 5-8 p.m. in the Nickerson Funeral Home, 77 Eldredge Park Way, Orleans, MA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of one’s choice. For online condolences and directions, please visit www.nickersonfunerals.com