CANFIELD, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Donald R. Brooks, just shy of his 101st birthday, formerly of Poland, passed away Tuesday morning, June 6, 2023, at his home surrounded by his loving family.
Don was born June 16, 1922 in Chicago, Illinois, the oldest of three children of Hazel Anna Marie Lau and Earl Robert Brooks. The family lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota and subsequently moved to Erie, Pennsylvania in 1933.
Don graduated from Erie Academy High School and attended Westminster College until June of 1942, when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, then assigned in April 1944 to Ellington Army Air Corps Base in Houston as a twin-engine advanced pilot instructor. In July of 1944, he was transferred to March Field in Riverside, CA for B-24 bomber training and in October, 1944, he flew the new B-24 to Darwin, Australia to join the 380th Bomber Group. He next flew 31 bombing missions from Darwin, Australia to Mindoro in the Philippines and Okinawa until the war ended. He was discharged in December of 1945 after being decorated with two air medals and five Pacific ribbons.
He resumed his education at The Ohio State University and graduated in June of 1947 with a degree in Business Administration, then moved to Cleveland to complete Case Western Reserve Law School and pass the bar in June of 1949.
Don married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Frances Smatana, on April 11, 1944 in Houston Texas. After 65 years of marriage, Don lost Dorothy when she passed away in April 2009.
In 1950, Don was invited to join his father’s growing business, the Safety Tire Company in Youngstown, which continued to expand to multiple locations. It remained in the hands of the Brooks family until it was purchased by Flynn’s Tire in 2000.
Don retired but remained an active golfer, bridge player, bowler and participant in community service.
Don became a member of the Poland Presbyterian Church in 1941, where he served as a deacon, elder, clerk of session and usher team leader.
He was always active in the community, in his own words, “a joiner.” He logged many years of service to the Junior Chamber of Commerce (“JCs”), a member of the Downtown Youngstown Kiwanis Club where he was presented his 50 years of service award, his 50 years for perfect attendance and the Kiwanis Hixson Award. Don was a member of the Mahoning County TB and Health Association, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a Mason with the Poland Masonic Lodge #766 F & AM and the American Legion, where he marched in the Memorial Day color guard for many years. Moreover, he served many of these organizations in leadership roles as President, Chairman and Board Member.
Don is survived by three children, Rebecca Brooks of Boston, Massachusetts, Wendy Brooks Bean of Sarasota, Florida and Christopher (Nancy) Brooks of Canfield, Ohio; four grandchildren, Alana (Michael Kenyhercz) Brooks of Kailua, Hawaii, Lauren Bean of Sarasota, Florida, Ron Sullivan of Novi, Michigan and Ryan Sullivan of Canfield, Ohio and a brother, Robert E. (Norma) Brooks of Fort Myers, Florida.
Besides his parents, Don was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy and a sister, Barbara A. Murray.
Family and friends may call on Sunday, June 11, 2023, from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Cunningham-Becker Funeral Home, 270 N. Main Street in Poland and on Monday, June 12, 2023, from 10:00 – 10:45 a.m. at Poland Presbyterian Church, 2 Poland Manor, where a funeral service will follow at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. Rev. Paul W. Anderson officiating.
The Brooks family would like to extend a special thanks to Ed and Diane Reese along with the entire staff of The Inn at Ironwood in Canfield for all of the care and compassion they gave Don and his family during his stay.
The family requests that material tributes take the form of contributions to Hospice of the Valley, 979 Tibbetts Wick Road, Girard, OH 44420, in memory of Don.
Don will be sorely missed, especially for his great sense of humor, generous spirit and patriotic values: truly one of the Greatest Generation.
Please visit www.beckerorbits.com to share memories and send condolences to Don’s family.
A television tribute will air Friday, June 9 at the following approximate times: 6:47 a.m. on WYTV, 9:43 a.m. on WKBN, 10:58 a.m. on FOX and 8:12 p.m. on MyYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.