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Sam E. Brooks Celebration of Life
Sam E. Brooks, 86, of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, went to be with the Lord on December 24, 2018. He died peacefully at home with his wife, Helen, at his side. He was born October 24, 1932, in Livingston, Tennessee, and raised with his brothers, Joe and Bill, and sisters, Barbara and Edith Ann, by his grandmother, Irmine Upchurch.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Shirley and Ruby Brooks; his grandmother, Irmine Upchurch; brothers, Bill and Joe Brooks; sister, Barbara Baker; and uncles, Fred and Earl Upchurch.
He graduated from Livingston Academy in Livingston, Tennessee, in 1953. While in high school, he played football, basketball, and baseball. When asked in later years by a grandson, which sport he liked best, he said, “the one I’m playing”. Before walking down the aisle to receive his graduating diploma, he was drafted into military service in the Korean War and received his diploma in the mail. He was in the army for three years, attaining the rank of corporal before contracting tuberculosis and spending 18 months in a V.A. hospital in Nashville. He lost one-half of a lung and was told that he could no longer play sports. He attended Tennessee Tech on the GI Bill, played on Tech’s baseball team, and graduated in 1960. While attending Tech, he learned the game of golf, loved it, and played it the rest of his life. He enrolled at UT in Knoxville, where he attained his Master’s in only four quarters. His college education also included an EDS from MTSU. He met his wife, Helen, at Tenn Tech, and they were married in September 1959. They moved to South Pittsburg in 1962 and raised their two children, Holly and John.
Sam’s first teaching job was director of physical education at Boston Avenue Elementary School in Deland, Florida. In 1962, he was hired as the head basketball coach and assistant football coach at South Pittsburg High School in Marion County. In the years that followed, he was also head baseball coach, golf coach, and many other high school and youth sports. During his teaching and coaching career, Sam achieved both recognition and honors. Fellow coaches in the Sequatchie Valley Conference elected him president as well as secretary and treasurer at various time. He was selected by UPI to serve on a panel of ten coaches who each week selected Tennessee’s top 10 basketball teams. He was instrumental in the establishment of classification in Tennessee high school basketball. In 2009, he was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame and the Greater Chattanooga Area Hall of Fame. He was most proud of his 554 wins in basketball at South Pittsburg High School. In February of 2004, South Pittsburg High School honored him with the renaming of the new basketball facility to the Brooks-Fuqua Gymnasium. He shares this honor with South Pittsburg girl’s basketball coach, Bebe Fuqua. In the Brooks-Fuqua Gymnasium, permanent name plates have been put on the chairs where he and best friends, Carl Case and Joe Holder, who preceded him in death, always sat. They were known as the three musketeers. He is listed in Who’s Who of American High School Basketball Coaches.
Sam retired from the Marion County School System in 1990, where he had been a dedicated teacher, administrator, and coach. He loved both teaching and coaching, and always strived to inspire both his students and players. Through the years he has received many letters and cards telling him of the differences he has made in their lives. One player/student established the “Brooks Scholarship” which gives $5,000 per year to graduating seniors. Upon retirement from teaching and coaching in 1990, Sam went to work for Tennessee Farm Bureau, where was very happy. He officially retired again in 1998. He continued to coach golf at Richard Hardy Memorial School in Marion County for many years. He additionally taught golf lessons to boys and girls at Sequatchie Valley Golf and Country Club. He was active in both church and community activities. He served as president of the Jaycee’s and later as president of the Lion’s Club. He was also Lion of the Year and Lion of the Decade.
Sam was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and uncle. He was a Christian and a member of Holly Avenue United Methodist Church. He was married to the love of his life and best friend, Helen, for 59 years. Sam considered life a gift and a blessing. In his stay-at-home years, Helen read to him many hours each day from the Bible and other books such as the classics of Louis L’amour and Edgar Rice Burroughs .
Those left behind to cherish his memory are his wife, Helen; daughter, Holly (Jackie) Stewart; son, John (Donna) Brooks; granddaughter, Krisy (Joey) Evitts; grandson, Tyler (Holly) Stewart; grandson, Ethan Brooks; great-grandsons, Sam and Jack Evitts; great-granddaughters, Millie Cate Evitts and Mary Helen Stewart; sister, Edith Ann Howard; sister-in-law, Brenda Brooks; brother-in-law, James Polston; nieces and nephews, Sam Brooks, John Brooks, Kim Hess, Debbie Wainwright, Jody Brooks, Henerietta Upchurch, Tammy Guge, Tisha Grigsby, Russell Allstun, Cody and Brett Guge.
Special friends are Cheryl Webb, Virgil Holder, Dr. Rusty Adcock, John Halley, Laurie Britton, Wilma Billingsley, Charles Haynes, Lisa Jordan, Amedisys Hospice, and many others who blessed him with visits, telephone calls, letters, and cards.
The family will receive friends from 3 – 8 p.m. CST on Friday, December 28, 2018, at Tate Funeral Home in Jasper, Tennessee. Open visitation will be available 9 a.m. up to the time of services on Saturday. A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, December 29th, at 1:00 p.m. CST in the Chapel at Tate Funeral Home with pastor, Joey Manis, officiating. Graveside service will follow at Sequatchie Valley Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to South Pittsburg High School basketball programs.