Cardinal Cadence Spring/Summer 2013

Preserving history

Jack Brooks historical photo montageBrooks-Shivers Dining Hall:

A lasting legacy

The Brooks-Shivers Dining Hall will perpetuate the legacy of two men who were instrumental in efforts to make Lamar a four-year college.

Regents of The Texas State University System unanimously transferred the name from the Brooks-Shivers dormitory, which is being repurposed as a part of campus enhancement.

Their action emphasizes the importance of preserving the history of Lamar while moving forward as a university. The state-of-the-art dining hall opened in 2005.

Brooks-Shivers Hall opened in 1968 after being named in 1966 to honor then U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks and former Gov. Allan Shivers. Two decades earlier, Brooks, as a state representative, and Shivers, as Texas lieutenant governor, played significant roles in the passage of legislation creating Lamar State College of Technology.

Robert Allan Shivers was born on Oct. 5, 1907, in Lufkin and spent his early childhood in the family home near Woodville. After his father moved to Port Arthur, he graduated from Port Arthur High School in 1924. After graduation from the University of Texas, he practiced law in Port Arthur until he was elected to the Texas Senate at age 27, the youngest member ever to sit in that body. Shivers served in the Army during World War II. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1946 and assumed duties as governor after Jester’s death in July 1949, serving more than seven years as Texas’ top official. He died on Jan. 14, 1985.

Born in Crowley, La., on Dec. 18, 1922, Jack Bascom Brooks came to Beaumont at age 5. He attended public schools, working as a carhop, grocery clerk, magazine salesman and reporter. He enrolled in Lamar Junior College in 1939 and completed his first two years of college at Lamar in 1941 before he transferred to the University of Texas, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1943. After serving as a Marine on Guadalcanal, Guam, Okinawa and in North China, Brooks was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1946 at age 29. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives for 42 consecutive years—from 1953 through 1994. Brooks died on Dec. 4, 2012, just short of his 90th birthday.

 Jack Brooks:

‘A great friend of Lamar University’

Jack Brooks was a part of history, not only on the national stage but also in the emergence of Lamar University as a major institution of higher learning.

“Jack Brooks’ life and service were closely tied to Lamar,” said President James Simmons. “He was an alumnus of Lamar, and he never forgot his alma mater. He was instrumental in the growth and development of the university throughout his public service. Jack Brooks was a great friend of Lamar University.”

When Brooks died Dec. 4, 2012, at age 89, his family selected the Montagne Center as the site of his memorial service—where a who’s who of public figures and those from all walks of life paid him tribute.

Brooks shared the political stage with key political players of the 20th century—from House Speaker Sam Rayburn to Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He was in Kennedy’s 1963 motorcade through Dallas, and, after Kennedy’s assassination, Brooks stood nearby as Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force One.

He earned recognition for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A decade later, he played a major role in the investigation and impeachment proceedings of President Richard Nixon. He was known as a champion of civil liberties and a watchdog over government spending and operations.

While representing Jefferson County in the Texas House, he authored the bill making Lamar a four-year institution—the first new senior college in Texas in 25 years. That measure alone would have cemented his place in Lamar’s history, but his impact on Lamar goes far beyond that moment. His record in Congress was punctuated by his efforts on behalf of Lamar. In addition to his assistance in obtaining federal research and study grants and loans for construction, Brooks lent his personal efforts to help students, faculty and staff.

Lamar honored Brooks as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1975. He and his wife, Charlotte, have been honored as members of Lamar’s Spindletop Society, the university’s highest recognition of philanthropic support. Brooks’ impact on Lamar continues through the Jack Brooks Scholarship in Government and Public Service and the Jack Brooks Chair in Government and Public Service, which hosts the annual Brooks Conference. The Beaumont Foundation of America established a Southeast Texas Legends Endowed Scholarship in his honor.

To contribute to the Brooks Scholarship or for information about establishing an endowed scholarship, contact the Lamar University Foundation at (409) 880-2117.

by Louise Wood