Bill Brooks Dies in Kansas; Former Sitkan was Age 85

William Joseph Brooks

William Joseph Brooks passed away unexpectedly in his home on Feb. 17, 2023, in Burlington, Kansas. The former Sitka resident was 85.

Bill was born April 12, 1937, in San Jose, California, to Hollin and Helen Brooks. 

Bill was raised in Hollister and  worked in his father’s country grocery store from 1945-1955, where he learned to be a butcher, and also enjoyed fishing and hunting and claims to have learned his salty tongue from a neighbor’s parrot.  

He attended California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, attaining a bachelor of science degree in architectural engineering in 1960.

Bill performed a variety of engineering-related jobs helping develop the City of Cupertino before it became the heart of Silicon Valley.

In 1967 Bill began working for the U.S. Forest Service in forest engineering, and earned increasing responsibilities, first in the Eldorado National Forest (Placerville, California), then Inyo National Forest (Bishop, California), and Fresno, California, before becoming head of forest engineering in Sitka, in 1976.

In 1981 Bill was accepted to Illiff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, receiving a master of divinity before returning to Alaska as a United Methodist minister.

In 1991 Bill changed careers again and joined SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in Sitka, where he facilitated multi-million dollar construction contracts and upgrades for the hospital and community health offices.

His final job was in Ada, Oklahoma, 2006-2013, where he managed the design and construction of the largest Native American hospital in the United States.

Bill enjoyed music throughout his life. He was an amateur pianist/organist and leading tenor in a variety of community and church groups. He enjoyed gardening in retirement with his son and was active in his local Methodist church, and contributed to democratic causes.

Bill was involved in a number of environmental and social advocacy efforts including helping to start a food pantry in Fresno, organizing to close the Sitka pulp mill, protesting the Rocky Flats nuclear testing facility, starting a soup kitchen ministry for the homeless in Denver, and advocating to stop the exploitation of Alaska Natives and the illegal ivory trade in Western Alaska.

Later, he was an active member of the Sitka Kiwanis and Ada Lions Clubs. 

Bill was outgoing, hard-working, a lover of all-kinds of food and personally renovated or expanded whatever house he lived in, including building the house at 1805 Sawmill Creek Rd. He was out fixing his fence with his son a few days before he passed.

Some history he personally witnessed was his front living room window being shattered by the newspaper thrown in it about Pearl Harbor.

Preceding Bill’s passing was his brother Hollin, mother and father, and his uncle Lock Martin Jr. (who played the robot Gort in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” movie 1951).

His remaining family includes son Sean (and Elizabeth) Brooks of San Francisco, daughter Jeanine Brooks (and Roger Schmidt) of Sitka, son Gary Brooks of Ada, Oklahoma, and grandchildren Anja and Mina Brooks-Schmidt, and Elise and Maren Brooks.

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At a Glance

(updated 3-14-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:15 pm Tuesday, March 14.

New cases as of Tuesday: 448

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 294,791

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,449

Case Rate per 100,000 – 61.60

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 46.90

Cases in last 7 days – 4

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,293

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






March 2003

Photo caption: Members of the newly formed Sitka Retail in Action Board have formed to promote  local businesses. The first event will be a street fair, “Spring Fever.” From left are Teri Egan, Kay McCarty,  Raphaelle Grangeon-Peters, Cathy Hanson, Bonnie Brenner, Joyce  Robertson and Tammy Thom.



March 1973

By calling Zenith 6000, Southeast Alaska residents now are able to contact Western Airlines reservations without charge to book flights anywhere in Western’s system. The service will continue until such time as the court case involving Southeast Alaska air service is settled.