Dorsey Brooks: A Tucker High School legend still active at 98

At age 98, Dorsey Brooks still has a clear memory of his days at Tucker High School, where he coached and taught 1947-1962.

Brooks, who currently lives in Hoschton, is a historic figure in the athletics department at Tucker High. In 1947, he was asked to come to the high school to develop the athletics program. He was a one-man show in the beginning, coaching football, basketball, baseball and track. He also assisted with the girls sports program before more coaches were hired. He did all of this while maintaining and preparing the field.

“When I went to Tucker it had the only football field in the county,” he said. “If anything needed to be done I had to do it.”

Brooks’ love for sports began at an early age. Born on Nov. 26, 1914, the year Tucker High opened, Brooks lived in Jefferson with his parents and nine siblings on a farm. It was on that farm that Brooks learned how to play basketball.

“The hoop was on the back of an old barn,” he said. “That’s all me and one of my buddies had to play on and that’s how we learned to play basketball.”

He played basketball at Martin Institute in Jefferson, where the team won a junior high eighth grade tournament. The next year as a freshman he moved to Lattimore, N.C., to live with his brother, who was farming cotton.  He made the team as a freshman, started and played every game, and the team eventually won the North Carolina state championship.

“I was fairly good [at basketball] and I got interested in it,” he said. “I was lucky enough to play on the team that won the state championship.”

He moved back to Jefferson afterward. After graduating from Martin Institute, he and a friend tried to join the Navy; he was denied entry because he was “underweight.” Brooks went back home with the hopes of finding a job at the Jefferson Cotton Mill.  Because of the Great Depression, the owner of the cotton mill couldn’t hire him.

“I asked him if he could help me pay for school and he said yes,” Brooks said.

The owner gave him $300 for the first quarter at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC). Brooks played football and basketball at ABAC. He later transferred to the University of Georgia and played on the basketball team.

After graduating from college, Brooks served a short term in the Navy then became a vocational agricultural teacher.

Avery Graves, a principal whom Brooks had worked for, became the principal at Tucker and asked Brooks to come to Tucker. During his tenure at Tucker, Brooks had a lot of success. In 1956, he led Tucker’s baseball team to a state championship, the first state title for Tucker

“I had fun coaching,” he said.

He also coached a few players who went on to play Major League Baseball, including Jim Flanigan, who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals out of high school.

“He had great athletes in all sports and we used the same athletes [in each sport],” said Larry Ross, one of Brooks’ former players.

Brooks also experienced some hard times at Tucker. In 1959, he was coaching a physical education class when a student collapsed and died from a brain hemorrhage. Brooks said the student’s death was especially hard for him because he was the son of a high school classmate.

“He was like family to me,” he said. “I have lived through some things that many other people had not lived through.”

Brooks was also a part of the creation of the Tucker Little League program. He handled the correspondence and interfaced with Little League headquarters to get Tucker sanctioned.

In 1966, Brooks was the principal of Carrollton High School in Carroll County and oversaw the initial integration of the school. He told the teachers to seat their students in alphabetical order so that no bias could be seen.

Brooks retired in 1976 and returned to Jefferson. In 2006, he created and funded the Incentive Reward Program at Jefferson Middle School to assist “at risk” children at the school.

“I’ve always been interested in children and I wanted to create a program for at risk students to give them hope,” he said.  “If the students showed improvement they are rewarded with cash money.”

When Brooks isn’t helping children, he is spending time with his third wife Dianne, who is 40 years his junior, his children and grandchildren. Brooks also teaches Sunday school, reads the newspaper, plays cards and goes dancing.

“He loves to dance,” Dianne said. “He used to go to Helen to dance at some of the dance halls.”

Brooks said he attributes his active lifestyle and good looks to good health and a positive attitude.

“I’m always looking for something to do tomorrow,” he said. “I was blessed with good genes and I think I’ve done a fair job of taking care of myself. I’m not a smoker, drinker nor a heavy eater.”

“My mind is good and I want to keep my mind active,” he said. “I don’t dread tomorrow at all. I look forward to tomorrow.”

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One thought on “Dorsey Brooks: A Tucker High School legend still active at 98

  • October 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm
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    I got to see him and his wife at the THS Class 63 Reunion, looking good and made a wonderful speech.

    GO TIGERS and Coach Brooks.

    Reply

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