Speakers watch a slideshow during a Celebration of Life service for Bob Brooks at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Brooks, a Cedar Rapids native and longtime sports broadcaster in Iowa, died in June. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
CEDAR RAPIDS — It was a night to remember, a night to share memories of a Cedar Rapids icon and Eastern Iowa broadcasting legend.
The life and career of Bob Brooks was celebrated Wednesday night before several hundred family, friends and fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Brooks, a Cedar Rapids native whose broadcasting career spanned seven decades, died June 25 at the age of 89.
“He was a man we loved, a man we’ll miss, a man we’ll remember,” said former University of Iowa sports information director Phil Haddy, one of eight speakers sharing stories and memories. “A good human being by any standard.”
Brooks was remembered for his love of high school athletes, the Hawkeyes and Cedar Rapids’ professional baseball organization, where he spent 51 years on the board of directors.
Some shed tears of sadness, others laughed while telling stories of their friend, colleague or grandfather.
“I never wanted to go to the grocery store with him because it would take two hours,” said grandson Peter Brooks, noting he didn’t understand at a young age why everybody wanted to talk to his grandfather. “The thing I noticed was the way he listened.”
Rob Brooks, Bob’s son and also a sports broadcaster, opened the evening by saying the outpouring of love, friendship and stories since his father died “brought a smile to my face every day.”
He said growing up the son of a revered and well-known sportscaster was interesting because of all the people he got to meet, legendary figures like Jesse Owens, Reggie Jackson, Woody Hayes and Mike Ditka.
“Everything kind of revolved around sports,” Rob said.
Others speakers included Ron Gonder, another Eastern Iowa broadcasting legend who told stories of the two working and enjoying time together on the road; former Iowa athletics trainer John Streif; former Iowa wide receiver Bill Happel; longtime friend Bill Quinby; and current “voice of the Hawkeyes” Gary Dolphin, who called Brooks’ career “absolutely stunning.”
Brooks, several mentioned, may be the only person who has witnessed all six of Iowa’s Rose Bowl appearances.
“Think about what Bob Brooks’ eyes witnessed,” Dolphin said.
“Bob was full of history and we’re going to miss that so, so much,” Streif said. “He wanted to share this history and his knowledge.”
Among those in attendance were Bump Elliott and Gary Barta, the former and current directors of athletics at Iowa, former Hawkeye men’s basketball coach Tom Davis, UNI men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson and Tim Dwight, a former Iowa City High School and Iowa star.
“He lived 89-plus years and did what he wanted to do,” Rob Brooks said.
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