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James Lee Brooks, 69

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James "Jim" Lee Brooks died peacefully at home in West Florence Township, Lake City, Minn., on March 28, twenty months after being diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer.

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He was born at home in rural Fayette County, W.V. on Feb. 10, 1945, the fifth of seven children, to William Gareth Brooks and Mamie Ruth (Browning) Brooks. The family farmed, mined and owned a small saw mill. He grew up swimming, playing basketball, fishing the New River and tramping the woods.

The Brooks family were avid readers. Both his parents and all seven children received post-secondary education. Jim graduated from Fayetteville High School, and the West Virginia University with a degree in Forestry. His forestry career began in West Virginia, where he worked on oak wilt control. In 1977, he was hired by the MN Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, to run their Insect and Disease Program, and was instrumental in garnering funds for Dutch Elm Disease control.

He went on to serve as Assistant and Acting State Forester, and was responsible for revamping the state's Forest Management Act in the early 1980s. He concluded his MN DNR career in Rochester, where he supervised all of the state's forest management programs in the southern third of MN. After retiring in 2006, Jim built a successful forestry consulting business by helping area woodland owners manage their land and market their timber. He was a longtime member of the Society of American Foresters, who recognized him as a "Fellow" in 1989, for his contributions to the profession.

Jim believed in service to others. He was an active and beloved member of the Wabasha United Church of Christ; he served on the University of MN Extension Committee of Goodhue County; he was a fervent supporter of 4-H. He chose sobriety, and helped countless others to achieve a clean and sober life through the spiritual fellowship of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, wherein he had many important, abiding friendships.

A devoted family man, Jim loved his wife, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and in-laws. He enjoyed family reunions, hunting, and sharing good food and stories with them all. He was a student of politics, financial planning and the stock market.

He, his wife and their daughter Amelia, raised, trained, trialed and showed nationally recognized purebred Australian Cattle Dogs under the kennel name Hillhaven for over 20 years. Jim was very fond of his dogs, and forged close ties with other dog fanciers.

Jim is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Louanne Stacey (Ditchett) Brooks; son John (Sheli) William Brooks; and daughters Amelia Ruth Brooks, and Joanna Lee Benson; his brothers and sisters, Jerry Brooks, Robert (Louise) Brooks, Mary Jane (Olen) Caldwell, Linda Cosby, and Kay (Gary) Jeffries; his grandchildren Summer Brooks, Parker Benson, Allie Perlowski, and Madeline Brooks; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Joan (Lee) Canterbury.

A Memorial Celebration of Life will be held at the Wabasha United Church of Christ, 317 2nd St. W., Wabasha, MN 55981, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 19; visitation with family and friends will be at the church beginning at 9:30 a.m.; lunch, fellowship and time to share stories will follow the service at the church. Bring a picture to share if you have one. Private burial at a later date.

Memorials are preferred to Red Wing Home Care and Hospice, P.O. Box 134, Red Wing, MN 55066, and CaringBridge, Donation Processing Center, P.O. Box 6032, Albert Lea, MN 56007 or at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jimbrooks.

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