The Obit For Bill Brooks

William Jasper "Bill" Brooks

Published in the Wilmington Star-News on November 10, 2010

Mr. William Jasper "Bill" Brooks, 88, of Wilmington, N.C., died on November 8, 2010. "Coach Brooks," as almost everyone called him, was the architect of the athletic program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and an inductee in several sports halls of fame.

Starting in 1951, Brooks became the first head basketball coach, athletic director, head baseball coach, and chairman of the health and physical education department at Wilmington College, UNCW's precursor. He remained athletic director for 40 years, won two national junior college baseball championships in 1961 and 1963, and led his basketball teams to two national junior college tournaments in 1962 and 1963. In 27 seasons as baseball coach on three different levels, he compiled a 574-292-6 record, and was named NAIA National Coach-of-the-Year in 1975.

In 1985 Brooks helped to form the Colonial Athletic Association, in which UNCW now competes, and also was instrumental in the construction of UNCW's athletic facilities. He is an inductee in the National Junior College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, UNCW Athletic Hall of Fame and Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame.

He was born October 13, 1922 in Black Creek, N.C., one of four sons and five daughters of Wade Ruffin Brooks of Black Creek and Bronna Henderson Bray of Siler City, N.C. He grew up on the family farm in Wilson County until the Depression. He attended Charles L. Coon High School where he excelled at football, basketball and baseball under legendary coach Leon Brogden, who became a lifelong mentor and friend.

He was quarterback of the N.C. Shrine Team in its victory over South Carolina, setting a passing record that stood for 25 years.

After graduation in 1940, Brooks had the option of signing a baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers or attending college. He entered Wake Forest on a football scholarship, playing quarterback for the freshman team. He also played semi-pro baseball for a Wilson team. After an injury ended his football, he moved to Edenton, N.C., where he was an assistant football coach to Coach Brogden at Edenton High School.

In 1944, he joined the Army Air Corps, playing basketball and baseball for the army while attending flight training in Enid, Okla. After the war he moved back to Wilson and attended Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, graduating with a degree in social studies in 1948.

Brooks played minor-league baseball and coached at high schools and pro teams during the next three years. In 1951 he moved to Wilmington, N.C., where he taught biology at New Hanover High School and assisted Coach Brogden as an assistant in football. That same year Brogden helped him land a job at Wilmington College. He later completed a masters degree in physical education from East Carolina University.

He married his wife of 61 years, Margaret Bunch of Edenton, in 1943. They are survived by his brother Tunney Brooks and sister Ellen Deans and son William J. Brooks, Jr. and daughter-in-law Ruth McCorkle Brooks of Raleigh; daughter Margaret Angermeier and son-in-law Glenn Angermeier of Vienna, Va.; and grandchildren Margaret Brooks, Emily Brooks and Sarah Angermeier.

Brooks served as a deacon at First Baptist Church, where he was a member for more than 60 years. A funeral service will be held there Saturday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m., followed by visitation.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Bill Brooks baseball scholarship fund at UNCW.