LU News Archive

Memorial service for Hon. Jack Brooks to be held 2 p.m. Sunday

Hon. Jack Brooks in replica office at LUA memorial service for the late Congressman Jack Brooks will be held 2 p.m. Sunday in the Montagne Center of Lamar University. Brooks, who died Tuesday at age 89, was a national figure whose lifetime of public service yielded lasting benefits for the people of Southeast Texas and for Lamar University.

“Jack Brooks' life and service were closely tied to Lamar,” said James Simmons, president of the university. “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, and after his retirement he continued to support the university with great generosity.”

Signing of bill making Lamar a four-year institutionBorn in Crowley, La., in 1922, Brooks came to Beaumont at age 5. He attended public schools in Beaumont, working as a carhop, grocery clerk, magazine salesman and reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise. He enrolled in Lamar Jr. College in 1939, majored in journalism, and completed his first two years of college at Lamar in June 1941. After serving as a Marine on Guadalcanal, Guam, Okinawa, and in North China, Jack Brooks was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1946. While representing Jefferson County he authored the bill making Lamar a four-year institution – the first new senior college in Texas in 25 years.

“As author of the bill that elevated Lamar from a two-year school to a four-year university, Brooks would have cemented his place in Lamar's history, but his impact on Lamar goes far beyond that moment. Throughout his 42 years in the U.S. House of Representatives he was a real champion for the university, providing assistance in obtaining research and study grants, as well as loans for construction. He also personally helped in many, many other ways.”

Congressman Brooks was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1952, where he served for 42 consecutive years. His outstanding record in the U.S. 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 with problems and opportunities with federal agencies.

Brooks represented the 2nd District of Texas from 1953 through 1966 and the 9th District from 1967 through 1994. Brooks served as chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, the Select Committee on Congressional Operations, the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations, and the Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security. In 1979, Congressman Brooks became the Dean of the Texas Delegation, the member with the longest tenure in the Congress.

Dedication of LU libraryAfter his retirement, Congressman Brooks has continued to receive prestigious awards. On April 23, 2001, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin presented the agency’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal to Brooks at a ceremony in the John Gray Center of Lamar University. Goldin cited Brooks’ long-standing support of the U.S. space program and praised his role in “strengthening the agency during its formative years”.

In August 2002, Congressman Nick Lampson and a host of distinguished guests honored Brooks with an evening celebration entitled “Tribute to a Legend: A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of U.S. Congressman Jack Brooks”. In November 2002, Government Computer News announced former Congressman Brooks had been selected as the Post Newsweek Tech Media’s civilian executive of the last 20 years. The News cited the 1965 Brooks Act that opened up the government information technology market for competitive contracts.

Jack Brooks’ significant role in the passage of the legislation that created Lamar State College of Technology was a key factor in the decision to name a new $2.6 million dormitory in his honor in 1966. The new hall was concurrently named after another significant political figure in Texas, former Gov. Allan Shivers.

Jack Brooks on campusBrooks was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of Lamar in 1975. The Jack Brooks Center for Government and Public Service was established at LU in 1983 and a replication of his Washington D.C. office was built on the seventh floor of the Mary and John Gray Library. His impact on Lamar continues through the Jack Brooks Chair in Political Science, which he established in 1997. A statue in his honor was placed in the campus quadrangle in 1989. A Southeast Texas Legends Endowed Scholarship was established in his honor in 2008.

The Honorable and Mrs. Jack Brooks are members of Lamar’s Spindletop Society, the university’s highest recognition of philanthropic support.

The family has request that, in lieu of flowers or other gifts that donations be made to any of the following organizations supported by Brooks: The Jack Brooks Scholarship, The Southeast Texas Food Bank, and Some Other Place, Inc.

“Jack Brooks was a great friend to Lamar University,” Simmons said.