ST. GEORGE — Former St. George mayor and vice president of Dixie State University Karl F. Brooks passed away Saturday night in St. George at age 79.
Born in St. George in 1935, Brooks would later serve as the mayor of St. George from 1982-1994.
The 1994 St. George mayoral race was a close one, pitting Brooks against his friend Dan McArthur. McArthur won that election, but St. George Mayor Jon Pike said Mayor Brooks stayed active in local and state politics for many years.
“Until the last few years, he had been attending the Utah League of Cities conventions every year,” Pike said. “He was a former chairman of that board as mayor, and as such, he was invited and came until he couldn’t anymore.”
Pike said Brooks loved St. George and was proud of the city.
“He continued to love St. George — was always happy to talk about it (and) the history of the area,” he said.
Brooks’ son, Daren Brooks, said all of his father’s children were in St. George to celebrate his 80th birthday.
“I came from out of state, my brother flew in from New York, my sister came from Salt Lake (and) we had lots of friends and family. We had planned his 80th birthday party to be celebrated yesterday,” Daren Brooks said. “So we were all in town for his 80th birthday party since that was the time we all could be here.”
After all of the family had the chance to see and visit with Karl Brooks, Daren Brooks said: “I was sitting there at home and looked around and said ‘Hey, we haven’t all been together for years.’ Then my second thought was ‘Oh no.’ Then the phone call came.”
That’s when Daren Brooks learned of his father’s passing.
When asked about his father’s legacy, Daren Brooks said:
I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say a bad word about anybody. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him put anybody down behind their backs or in front of them. I don’t think I ever heard him make fun of anybody ,ever. I never heard him curse, I never heard him disparage anybody, I never even heard him question somebody’s motives … I don’t know how to explain it, but the guy loved … I would love to take that away and be better at that, if I could.
Daren Brooks also spoke of his father’s grandfather who he said pulled handcarts to St. George and helped to build the St. George Temple and the Tabernacle. Karl Brooks’ father was the sheriff in town and his mother was noted author Juanita Brooks.
Karl Brooks would also author several books of his own about the area, including one co-written with former Dixie College president Douglas Alder entitled “A History of Washington County, from Isolation to Destination.” That book is still available on Amazon.
Karl Brooks was an educator first. For 25 years, he served Dixie College as a teacher, director of high school relations, vice president and athletic director.
Pike reminisced about Brooks and his legacy.
“I had opportunities to hear him speak many times, and he was a teacher, you know, he was a teacher — an educator,” Pike said. “What I learned from him was about some of the history of St. George and the area. And much like his family, his mother Juanita Brooks, and others, they were just good, good people. They were educators, they were writers and that was Karl. He was a great human being who had kind words and a smile.”
Daren Brooks said the family is trying to obtain use of the Tabernacle for his father’s funeral, as his grandfather and great-grandfather’s funeral had also been held there.
“I’ll bet I can ask everybody in that funeral if they had ever had a personal interaction with Karl, and they would all raise their hand,” Daren Brooks said. “I’d say ‘How many of you felt like you mattered more when you left?’ and everyone would raise their hand too. I don’t know how he did that, but you’d spend five minutes with him and you felt like you mattered, you felt like you were worth something, you felt like you were heard.”
Pike said Karl Brooks’ funeral will be held Saturday, Nov. 7, which would have been Brooks’ 80th birthday. Location is to be announced.
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