NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleanian known around the country died this morning. At 112-years old, Lawrence Brooks was the oldest living World War II veteran.
Brooks was known for his optimism, sense of humor, and as a man of great faith.
"Mr. Brooks was just such a gentle soul. He's such a wonderful man loved by everyone, he loved this city, loved the Saints, and loved this museum," Peter Crean, V.P. of Education and Access at the WWII Museum, said.
Born Sept. 12, 1909, Brooks was drafted into the army at 31-years old. He served during WWII in the predominantly African American 91st engineer battalion.
"The army was segregated at that time and his duties as a soldier were essentially to be an orderly for white officers," Crean said. "He did not let that pull him down."
After his time in service, Brooks worked as a forklift operator and raised five children, followed by 13 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren. He was healthy and mentally sharp well past age 100, but in recently months his health was declining. Brooks died the morning of Jan. 5, 2022 at 112-years old.
"He had an incredible life," Crean said. "If you think of all the challenges Mr. Brooks had in 112 years, you'd think he had a chip on his shoulder, but that is not the case."
Brooks was often asked what the secret was to such a long life. He always offered the same simple, yet profound advice.
"No secret," Brooks said on his 111th birthday. "Just serve God and be nice to people."
"And he lived by that. He was nice to everyone he met and he just wanted others to be happy," Crean said.