Charlotte Collins Brooks, widow of late congressman, dies at 78

Charlotte and Jack Brooks

Charlotte Collins Brooks passed away Sunday, April 20, 2014, at the age of 78. She was born and raised in Cameron, Texas, on Aug. 28, 1935, and had lived in Beaumont, Texas, and Washington, D.C. for the past 60 years. A memorial service for Mrs. Brooks will be 6 p.m., Thursday, April 24, 2014, at Broussard’s, 1605 North Major Drive, Beaumont, with a gathering of her family and friends to follow.

Charlotte fought against lung cancer for more than a year prior to her death and is preceded by her mother and stepfather, Inez and Bassel Wilson of Cameron, Texas, in 2000; her husband of 52 years, former Congressman Jack Brooks of Beaumont, Texas, in 2012; and her brother Carter Collins of Milano, Texas, in 2012. Charlotte is survived by her three children, Jeb Brooks of Beaumont, Kate Brooks Carroll of Beaumont, and Kimberly Brooks of Castle Pines, Colo.; her brother, Glenn Collins of Tyler; son-in-law Rod Carroll; and grandchildren Matthew and Brooke Carroll of Beaumont. In addition, she leaves her extended families of the Wilsons, Collins and Brooks as well as her beloved cousins in the DeLaurel family, Lake Charles, Las.

Charlotte had a way of effortlessly attracting attention. This was recognized early in life when she was drum major of her high school marching band, Yoe High School, in Cameron. After attending Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas, and Northwestern University, Evanston, Il., she moved to Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. Her graciousness and compassion for others were among her finest qualities. Soon after her arrival, that same attractive quality caught the eye of a young congressman, Jack Brooks, who, after inviting her to dinner, spent as many dinners as he could with Charlotte for the rest of his life.

During her time on “The Hill,” this beautiful woman from Cameron would serve with the Congressional Wives Club, an organization that kept communication lines open between sometimes-fractious members of Congress. She and Jack often had occasion to dine at the White House with the Johnsons and other dignitaries throughout their 52 years together. Charlotte much preferred to be at her own kitchen table with her family. Jack always said that her cooking was better than any restaurant. She accompanied Jack on many political adventures, including the turbulent 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. There were sad times, too. She was waiting for her husband and President Kennedy in Austin, which would have been the next stop on their trip that fateful day that took them to Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963. And then there were the things that must have seemed like a dream, including meeting the Queen of England — twice!

In Washington, she raised three children and was even able to manage a number of local banks here in Beaumont as chairman of the board. Putting others first was always top of Charlotte’s list. She always made sure family was first, from home cooked meals, to school events and PTA editor/volunteer. Her ability to create strong friendships with neighbors will last throughout surviving generations. She loved her crossword puzzles and would work them every day while drinking her coffee after reading the paper.

Since her return to Beaumont, Charlotte continued her support of Some Other Place, P.O. Box 0843, Beaumont, Texas 77704; The Art Museum of Southeast Texas, 500 Main Street, Beaumont, Texas 77701; Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program, 2390 Dowlen Road, Beaumont, Texas 77706; or to Lamar University, P.O. Box 10011, Beaumont, Texas 77710. Please consider donating to these organizations in lieu of flowers.