Forest Brooks was a good and faithful servant of Jesus, who loved others with Jesus’ love, used all his God-given talents to the fullest, remained faithful in patiently carrying his daily crosses until his last breath when he completed the race and finished on March 21, 2023, Tuesday, Fourth Week of Lent and St. Benedict’s Feast Day.
All his life, Forest served others and did the work of 10 people. He volunteered with Seattle Prep Basketball and Football doing stats. He was offered two full scholarships to Seattle University in 1965, in academics and sports. Forest chose sports and was the manager of the SU Baseball Team for 4 years (1965-69). The 1965 SU Baseball Team was inducted into the SU Sports Hall of Fame. Forest brought the players their old baseball bat which brought much joy as they swung like they were in college again.
Forest worked for the Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District from ’69-2000 when he was promoted by the Alaska District Corp of Engineers. He was a public servant all his life. He respected the taxpayers he worked with on his projects. As Forest always did with anyone, he looked them in the eye with love and told them the truth and listened. He was most proud of being able to have projects built in La Conner and saving the town about $800,000; and also saving Aberdeen 1 million dollars. He said both towns could do a lot with getting that much back of their tax dollars.
When Forest was leaving the Seattle District to go to Alaska, representatives for Centralia, Aberdeen, and La Conner had a private meeting with Forest to tell him how much they were grateful for his years of public service with him and to wish their friend well in Alaska.
Forest always watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Christmas time. He would always cry at the last scene in the movie, “Mary did it, George, all she had to do was say, ‘George needed help’ … You really had a wonderful life.”
All 45 years, 5 months, 6 days, I was married to a good man, who went beyond even George Bailey in having a wonderful life because he served Jesus with his whole heart, loved the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and walked by prayer in the front steps of St. Joseph.
All Forest’s best friend, Mike, had to do when Forest became ill was say, “Forest needs prayers”, and so many responded, all I had to do was the same.
Forest impacted so many students lives, veterans, active duty, public servants, the public. Forest retired from the Corps of Engineers Alaska District in 2013, after 44 years of faithful service. He received the third highest award, the Corps Fleur de Lis Castle Bronze, that the Army Corps of Engineers can give a civilian. He had previously earned the National Team Study Award for the Army Corp of Engineers of his Team Project of DeLong Mine with the Alaska District.
Forest had multiple high academic accomplishments along with his awards and being in Who’s Who. Yet only the people who were there when he received or myself for the most part ever knew. He was always humble and only desired to follow Jesus’ example to love thy neighbor as thyself.
Our favorite movie this last year was to watch “Remember the Goal”. It is a Christian movie about a Girls HS Cross County who gets a new coach who trains them different from all the other coaches – pace training. As a consequence they don’t will many meets because their goal is to win state. The girls trust the coach who keeps saying, “Remember the goal”. At state, they reach the goal and cross the finish line with their 5th runner as State Champions. Forest always remembered the goal, which was ours from the time we met before we were married on October 15, 1977, with his best friend Father Sullivan offering the Sacrament of Marriage, was for both of us to get to Heaven.
One story which summarizes Forest’s life.
Forest had a public meeting for the Skagit Valley Flood Plain in Washington. A Vietnam Veteran, Larry, attended. He had done extensive research on the flood plain and wanted something done by the Corps of Engineers, but did not trust his government after the way he was treated when he came home from Vietnam, not unlike 10,000’s of Vietnam Veterans whose hearts were broken by cruel people. I was so hoping Larry would come to see Forest the next day when Forest was available in an office room at city Hall to talk individual with the taxpayers – people of the town. I was able to tag along to Forest’s public meetings so was there the next day sitting in a bench outside the office where Forest was meeting people. When I saw Larry walk to the door and pass by me I was so happy and smiled to myself. I saw the look of hurt and distrust in Larry’s eyes, but I said to myself, “You are going to meet a good man and he will restore your faith in your government.” I waited. Larry came out of the meeting and said these words to me, “That is a good man. He restored my faith in my government.” I said, “I know.” A Vietnam Veteran walked away with a heart less broken that day. Larry communicated with Forest the rest of his career with his latest research on the Skagit Flood Plains and was his friend.
Forest was on the early founding of the Board of Directors of the Centralia Memorial Museum (’98-2008) dedicated to respecting, loving, and healing veterans’ hearts.
When he moved to Alaska for the corps position, he took the idea to Alaska, was on the founding board, and the Alaska Veterans Museum is on 4th Avenue where the Iditarod Race starts each year. Forest asked the Alaska Veterans Museum to sponsor Friends of Our Troops and send Christmas cards to service members. Forest and I did the work with Forest doing 80% plus. He went to all the schools he could, 30+, and picked up cards after the students completed them. We read every one. Forest packed and mailed 70,000 Christmas cards later to the heroes serving their country. Forest retired and moved to Idaho.
When Forest had his first heart attack on February 25, the first words he said to me in his hospital room was, “Trust in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What will be will be. And you don’t worry.” We prayed the Rosary. I heard these words. “Peace be to you Forest and Catherine. I am with you always.” I wrote a note to Forest and then wrote these words. I found the note later and Forest had put red ink quotes around what I wrote and underlined in black ink "always".
Forest’s second and massive hear attack was First Friday. March 3, he went into surgery early 4:40am, First Saturday. March 4, Forest would be sedated until his death. He received all the Sacraments the Catholic Church has to offer. His last work on earth was to lovingly hold my hand, with his eyes half open, with Forest’s eyes of love and peace he always had when we prayed our daily rosary. His last breaths were trying to say, “Hail Mary”.
Forest has shown me the way and I must follow to be where he will be and where our goal always was to be in Heaven one day. Forest always remembered the goal. He ran the same, kept the faith. He led a good Catholic life and kept the faith. Now I will follow.
Jesus will always be with us. The best gift anyone can give is prayers for Forest and myself. My father is a fallen firefighter. Forest and I are a firefighter family. Forest lived his life like my father. Forest is such a good man who made a difference in so many ways especially with High School Athletics. I will follow Forest, trust in the Immaculate Heart of Mary (not worry, be patient) and know Jesus is always with us.
I love you Forest always, my pearl, from the bible more precious than any other.