The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Edmund Alvertus Brooks II Inducted 1996 - Class of 1933
Throughout our lives, we observe many champions...champions of sport, champions in business and education, champions of causes, and champions who inspire us to be the best at what we do. Edmund Brooks is a champion because of his leadership, insight, and work in the field of Human Relations. Tonight, we are proud to welcome him into the WHS Hall of Fame.
Ed attended Spring Elementary School. He grew up on Maywood Street, where friends and family called him "Top." He remembers friendly people and cozy homes. "It was a mixture of Catholics and Protestants, Afro-American and white families sharing joy, happiness, grief, and mutual respect."
Ed had many friends at Woodward: Henry Swan, Elise Vidlund, Fred Slawski, Meyer Schall, Robert Mitchell, Esther Jakcsy, Thomas Harvey, Frances Ford, Elia Barefield, Ruth Boehler, Robert Ridenour, Ruth Ramlow, Annie Spencer, Phylis Netz, and Beatrice Curry. His nickname was "Eddie."
Ed's favorite teachers at Woodward include Mr. Albertstett, Commercial Department, whom he respected as "a role model." "Mr. Dunsmore, history teacher, emphasized scholastic achievement. Mr. Lowry taught English and stressed the importance of good English and literature. Miss Mary Ward, algebra teacher, gave special interest and help to students struggling with math. Miss Cronk, science teacher, always expressed a concern for the students' welfare."
Miss A. Curtis and Mr. Sheline, club advisors, are the teachers who had the most profound affect on Ed. "Miss Curtis helped me to be tolerant of people of different races and cultures. Mr. Sheline set a good example, maintaining a high standard of Christian character throughout the school and the community."
Participation in clubs and activities were important in building Ed's leadership qualities. He was elected to Student Council, was appointed to the Prom Committee and joined the Hi-Y and Quill and Dagger, a literary society.
Ed reminisces about Woodward's first victory over Scott (14-0) and defeating Libbey High (16-0). He has fond memories of singing in a quartet at pep rallies, performing on WSPD radio, and talking personally with Principal Charles LaRue about experiences that helped to prepare him for the future.
After leaving Woodward, Ed attended The University of Toledo, where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1938. While attending college, he worked for the Y.M.C.A. and received in-service training under Leo V. Marsh.
Ed's wife Lillian, a Libbey grad, describes him as a "dedicated and conscientious worker and an inspiring leader at work, in the community, and in our home." In 1941, Ed was appointed as youth counselor for the National Youth Administration in Toledo. From 1942 to 1954, he served as Assistant Labor Relations Director for Doehler-Jarvis National Lead Company.
Ed left Toledo in 1954, when he was selected as Human Relations Officer for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. He was later promoted to Director of the Compliance and Investigation Division. Ed's work spanned the administration of five Chicago mayors. In 1980, he was hired as Research Analyst. He retired in 1983. After retirement, Ed worked as a consultant for Mayor Harold Washington, who is now deceased.
During Ed's thirty years of work in Human Relations, he was instrumental in helping to ease racial tension during Chicago's civil rights struggle. A newspaper article once described Ed as "one of a handful of men Chicago relies on to spot racial trouble and ease tensions before they explode into violence." As a field worker, he often walked the neighborhoods, watching for potential problems or for danger signs that could signal the start of a riot. Ed was quoted as saying, "When it comes right down to it, my job is to make it possible for everybody to sleep at night."
In 1967, Ed appeared daily on a TV spot, "The Do Line," a hot line for citizens with racial problems. He also trained police officers on human relations techniques. In 1976, the late Mayor Richard Daley named Ed to head a commission to review complaints of excessive force filed against police officers.
In 1969, Ed was selected as the recipient of the Superior Public Service Award as "Outstanding Supervisory Employee." Twice he received the “Humanitarian Award" from the Chicago Commission. When notified of his election to the WHS Hall of Fame, Ed was “speechless for a second or two, excited, proud, and happy. This was a goal beyond my expectations."
Ed and his wife Lillian are blessed with four children and four grandchildren. His hobbies include walking, bowling, reading, and watching sports. Ed has maintained an attachment to WHS throughout the 60 years since his graduation by attending and giving the invocation at every class reunion.
Recognition of Edmund Brooks' work in human relations is as timely in today's world as it has been throughout his remarkable career. He has left his mark. That's what champions do!