Alan passed away on January 20, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland, while visiting his son’s family. He leaves behind his daughter Christine, a nurse practitioner; his daughter Kathrine, a teacher; his son, Alan, a nurse and epidemiologist working in international development; his daughter-in-law, Myanna, a teacher; and his grandchildren Thomas, Katherine, Thomas, John, Sean, Niko and Clara; three great-grandchildren; his brother Sheldon; and a large extended family. Alan was predeceased in early January by his wife of 56 years, Elaine; his brother Bill; and his parents, Mildred and Sheldon Brooks, who taught in the Tacoma Public Schools (McKinley and Lincoln) for many decades.
Born in Tacoma on April 23, 1939, Alan became interested in dentistry in 2nd grade and pursued his chosen vocation from that point forward. While at Lincoln High School he built & flew model airplanes competitively. As a senior, he won a spot at the National Science Fair, and after graduation, worked building the Alaska railroad to help pay for college.
Alan met his life-long love, Elaine, in chemistry class at Pacific Lutheran University in 1959 and they married in 1963. After Alan graduated from Dental School at UW, the young couple lived in Augsburg, Germany for three years while Alan served as a dentist in the US Army. Once back in Tacoma, Alan joined Dr. Jim Luzzi’s dental practice and he and Elaine settled in to raise their growing family, become members of First Lutheran Church and renovate a beach house on Vashon Island. As part of the local Lutheran community in Tacoma, they spent years supporting immigrants from Vietnam, Somalia & elsewhere settling into the community. He also served on the Tacoma Public Schools Citizen’s Committee and PLU Corporation Board.
Alan loved spending time at Vashon, welcoming many people in his life there. It was a labor of love, a retreat, and a gathering place providing special memories for many friends and family. In addition to spending time at the beach house and collecting treasures from Granny’s Attic and the island garage sales, Alan was passionate about gardening, photography, reading, making and fixing things and, most importantly, people.
He touched many families in Tacoma through his work as a family dentist and was beloved for his gentle dentistry, kindness, generosity and a deep interest in his patients and their families. He was known for giving toothbrushes out at Halloween, bringing candy and pizzas to Pt. Defiance Tahlequah ferry workers, supporting students on international exchanges, buying art from many different local artists, and giving new high school graduates full toolboxes with which to start their adult lives. He was especially known for taking candid photographs of people at their work and play, which he delighted in enlarging, mounting and gifting to those he had caught in his lens.
Alan loved gardening, to the degree that he bought the empty lot across the street to make space for his favorite plants. There, he created a park beloved by the neighborhood, and he welcomed all, including the playful garden gnomes, which he enthusiastically collected. For decades, he was involved in the American Rhododendron, the American Lily and the American Iris Societies, where he took on many leadership roles and responsibilities, volunteered as a judge, helped maintain the gardens at Point Defiance Park, and was often seen driving van loads of Irisarians to meetings and shows.
Alan’s memorial service will be at First Lutheran Church in the summer, after which he will be inurned with Elaine on Vashon Island. At his bequest, his grave will say, “Filling his last cavity”… which always made him laugh. In lieu of flowers, he suggested donations be made to Habitat for Humanity, Peace Community Center, Bridges to Development, and First Lutheran Church.
Dad, Gramps, Grandpa, Al, Dr. Brooks, friend, neighbor, teacher, mentor and advocate. He will be greatly missed.