Sunday, June 5, 2011

In memoriam, Steve Brooks, 1959-2011

My brother Steve passed away recently, losing his battle with cancer.  Steve was both my inspiration and my nemesis at various points in my life.  He was the reason I went to school to become a hydrologist (he was already in the masters program at University of Arizona when I entered to pursue my BS).  I followed him into consulting in Arizona, where I was forever known as "Steve's younger brother" within much of the local hydrology community.  At times I think I may have left consulting to go to law school as a concession that I would never be as good a hydrogeologist as he was.  But the reality is, he had things he was really good at - computer modeling and theory - and I had things I was very good at - field hydrogeology and policy.  In the end I came to the understanding that he pushed me at times to make myself better at what I did (which I often resented), but ultimately I would not be where I am today without his influence in my life.  I am a better person both professionally and personally because he took the time to care about me and where I was going with my life.  I owe him a huge debt of gratitude that I was never very good at expressing.  I hope he occasionally looks down on me and smiles at my accomplishments.


Katherine Wilkins-Wells said...

Chris: My sympathies to you and your family on your loss. It was a very nice tribute you provided in the blog and I'm certain your brother will be quite proud.

Anonymous said...

Chris --
I'm very sad for your loss. Thanks for your blog. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Steve and I were at the UofA together, and I thought it was funny that years after that, we sat next to each other for our R.G. exam. As a result, our registration numbers are one digit apart, and I always think of him whenever I seal something.

-- Gary Burchard

Anonymous said...


My heartfelt sympathies on Steve's passing and my prayers that your family recovers from this loss. I was always impressed when Steve submitted letters to the editor on local water issues. He reminded me of Sol Resnick who also took many stands on water. Steve's life was a great example of fighting the good fight in all aspects of life. I hope I can be as brave as him. You both are special and gifted people. I am glad to know you both.

Mike Block

Mel Eaglin said...

My sympathies and prayers go out to you and your family. Steve was a great friend and we shared many good times together. Mel Eaglin

Ed said...

Edward Nemecek

Chris: Never met you (I think) but your tribute was obviously heartfelt. Steve was a definitely a giver. We were professional colleagues and mountain climbing companions and I've rarely worked with professionals of Steve's caliber nor climbed with anyone of such drive. A northwest climbing friend noted he was a good mountain man and a good stepfather...I can't beat that but do note he was a solid friend and will be sincerely missed. Maybe some day I can tell you about the night we spent on top of Mt. Rainier...yes, on purpose.

Condolences to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I was so sad to hear the news, having just seen Steve a couple of months ago. I know he was fighting hard and courageously. I will miss his sense of humor adn pranks, his long stride, and his kindness, and his messy office that we could never find anything in but he could find everything in a moment. I have worked with Steve off and on over the past 12 years. I know he will be missed, but glad he is no longer suffering. Go in Peace my friend.
Coleen Keedah

Alex Yiannakakis said...

We were all better off for knowing Steve. He will be missed. So traggic losing a brilliant mind and fun person when they had so much more to give. Our thoughts and prayers to you and his family.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to hear of Steve's passing. He was well and widely liked. He was a good friend, and a great co-worker, who could always be relied upon for sound and accurate advice. I was glad I had teh chance to see him in January, and will miss him when I get back. Take care of yourself.

Time heals all wounds ... almost completely!

-Michael Geddis
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Paul Plato said...


Jim Esher Greg Carlson and I saw him on Memorial Day and we each believed he was doing good, I was stunned to hear. We even planned to get together with Shawn in a few weeks. I was shocked to hear of the loss. I want to express my condolences and plan to come down on Saturday. Take care.

John Giese said...

John Giese

I am very sad to learn of your loss. I met Steve when he joined a small group of us who did a weekly climbing trip somewhere in the west each year. He was also up to Bellevue Washington a couple of times. I thought of him a lot several weeks ago when I was near the Ruby Mountains - one of the places on our list that we hadn't visited.

After hearing about his passing I went to a local bar and had two shots of Bookers - Steve would have understood and grinned. I will remember him fondly.

Anonymous said...

Chris - Since I heard of Steve's death on Sunday, I too have reflected on the experiences shared, things said, things unsaid. I was certainly in closer touch with Steve while I lived in Tucson - remember fondly hiking experiences in the Catalinas, Rincons, and a memorable trip up Rainier, bar tours, AHS meetings and home remodeling and moving projects...

Steve touched many people during his short stay on this planet. I think the most appropriate memorial we can build in his honor is to live well, be true and honest to ourselvelves and all who are important in our lives - and most of all to live without regrets.

He will be missed.

Mike Fulton

Yvonne R. Young said...

It is sad to hear of Steve's passing. It took me by surprise. I just saw him three weeks ago in the office for training, and although he said things were tough he appeared upbeat and attentive. He was an excellent Hydrogeologist and his smile and humor will be missed.

Thank you Chris for providing this opportunity to write about him and my thoughts are with your family.
-Yvonne R. Young

Eric Pigati said...

Hey Chris --

I'm so sorry to hear above Steve. I only met him once but we had a good time over food and beers at Bob Dobbs - seemed like a really good person. You know where to find us if you want to get together and talk.


Anonymous said...

I saw your brother on Memorial day w/ Carlson & Plato. Your brother was a good soldier. I remember all that time me and him spent up in Rainbow Valley/Gila Bend in the mid 80's during the SSC project. We even took you along. Our trips to see Sean Strasser up in Tempe, the Saturdays spent at the Mill Inn, the climbs up Wrightson. He was a good friend.

Jim Esher

Chris Brooks said...

Ahh, Jim. I remember that SSC project well. Two weeks of 4-wheeling in the desert in a truck full of explosives. To this day that is probably the funnest job I have ever had. Hard to fathom such great memories of a trip to Gila Bend, AZ. Good to hear from you and thank you to all who commented here. The comments I read here and those received in person from friends and colleagues of Steve's confirm my respect for him even more.

waakoz said...

Steve and his family offered friendship to my son and took him on several trips to Sedona where he played at Slick Rock and went to the fish hatchery - I thank them for those opportunities! He will be missed. Kim O.

Anonymous said...

Here it is more than three years since losing him, and I just learned of Steve's passing. I was so saddened to read about it. I knew Steve for only a couple of years while in grad school at Arizona. After graduating, we went our separate ways, but Steve left a strong impression on me. Steve was a truly nice person, and a hell of a lot of fun to be around. I'm sure he will continue to be missed by those closer to him.

Greg Kupillas