1916 - 2012
Dr. Peter Thacher Brooks, 95, a longtime Walla Walla resident, died peacefully on Sept. 8, 2012, at Regency at The Park in College Place after a short stay there. He previously lived at Wheatland Village in Walla Walla for over three and a half years.
Dr. Brooks was born Nov. 10, 1916, in Concord, Mass., to Arthur Bradford Brooks and Ruth Faxon Brooks. He married Florence Richards on Feb. 28, 1942, in New York City. They later divorced. On Jan. 7, 1974, he married Betty Reynolds. Dr. Brooks graduated from Harvard in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree in governmental studies and from Columbia University School of Medicine in 1942. He interned from 1942 to 1943 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He then served three years of active duty with the U.S. Navy in the Medical Corps in the European and Pacific Theaters as a ship surgeon. After his discharge in 1946, he returned to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, completing his residency in 1949. He retired from the active naval reserve in 1976 after rising to the rank of commander.
With a strong desire to move west and leave city life, Dr. Brooks jumped at an opportunity when Dr. Arthur Yengling and Dr. Nathaniel Beaver asked him to join their medical practice in Walla Walla where they needed a surgeon. Dr. Brooks became instrumental in the growth of the Walla Walla Clinic as it grew from a three-man operation downtown to what it is today. He loved being a small town country doctor and was known for making house calls and becoming a part of the families he served. He was there for the patient no matter what the circumstances. Many grateful patients still fondly remember him. With an undergraduate degree in government and a love of politics it was natural for him to become active in various organizations, first with the Walla Walla Medical Society as president in 1954 and then with the Washington State Medical Association as president in 1971. He was a delegate from Washington State to the American Medical Association for six years from 1966 to 1972. He was past president of the Washington State Chapter of American College of Surgeons. Dr. Brooks’ love of politics eventually brought him to an active role in the Walla Walla County Republican Central Committee. He was a precinct committee chairman and member of the Washington State Republican Committee and a Washington State delegate to the National Republican Convention in Miami in 1968. Retiring from medical practice in 1984, Dr. Brooks served three terms in the state Legislature for the 16th District from 1985 to 1991.
One of his greatest accomplishments was playing a crucial role in the passing of Washington’s Basic Health Plan. While he served as a state representative he was known for his ability to cross the aisle to work with the opposing party, for his genteel ways and his signature bow tie. A true outdoorsman all of his life, Dr. Brooks as a child ice skated on the Concord River, fished, skied and sailed. In college he was an avid rower, hockey player and a member of the ski team. Into adulthood he continued fly fishing, skiing, hunting, golfing and horseback riding.
Dedicated to community service and giving of himself, Dr. Brooks was involved in many local activities and clubs including: Walla Walla Fire District 4 as a 30-year volunteer physician, Walla Walla Auxiliary Sheriff’s Posse (past captain), Walla Walla Elks’ Lodge, Walla Walla American Legion, member of board of governors for St. Mary Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center Board, Walla Walla Wagon Wheelers, Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Fort Walla Walla Museum, and the Walla Walla Country Club. In 1991 he was picked as marshall for the Southeastern Washington Fair and Frontier Days parade. After retirement in 1991, Dr. Brooks and his wife Betty enjoyed traveling, playing golf and spending time with their children and grandchildren. He continued to serve in various volunteer activities as well.
Dr. Brooks is survived by his son, Peter Thacher Brooks Jr. and his wife, Deborah, of College Place; his granddaughter, Whitney Anne of Spokane; his stepchildren, Jeff Reynolds of Walla Walla, Shelley Oliver (Garry) of Kailua, Hawaii, Richard McQuary of Spokane; several step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; his second wife, Betty in 1997; sister, Ruth Drinker; and stepson, Robert McQuary.
Private burial will be at the Dayton City Cemetery in Dayton under the direction of Hubbard-Rogg Funeral Home at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the Fort Walla Walla Museum or a charity of your choice. Friends are invited to an open house to celebrate Dr. Brooks’ life at the Walla Walla Country Club on Sept. 27, 2012, from 2 to 4pm.