Wendell Brooks, who taught at Berkeley High School, died on August 3. Photo: courtesy Wide Awake Minds

Wendell Houston Brooks: May 24, 1940 – August 3, 2012

Wendell Brooks died peacefully at home on August 3, 2012. He was a consummate singer, lifelong educator, and a citizen of the world. His wonderful smile and non-stop energetic personality brought great joy to all who knew him.

Wendell was born in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas to Julius Blaine Brooks and Golden Mitchem Brooks, spent his childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, moved to Sacramento at the age of 12, and graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School.

After graduation from Whittier College, Wendell served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, lived in Europe, earning his Master’s Degree from Uppsala University in Sweden, and returned to the United States in 1971. For the rest of his life he taught primarily at California State University East Bay, Berkeley High School, and Holy Names University.

Wendell was an avid follower of politics, and his wide-ranging interests, including sociology, history, music, religion, and African American studies, made him an outstanding and inspiring educator.

Wendell’s commanding bass-baritone voice was unforgettable. He performed widely in Europe and the United States in both classical and folk music, and as a proponent of African American slave songs and spirituals.

Wendell was bass soloist at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church for 40 years, and Master of Song for the California Revels from 2000-2011.

He is survived by his wife Cheryl Keller Brooks, his children Malena and Julian Brooks, his stepdaughter Samantha Keller, his grandchildren Celina Murrington, Nicholas and Christopher Tonna, Naomi, Jason, and Zachariah Brooks, his great-grandchild Arianna Walters, sister Eugenia Murchison, brothers Walter Brooks and Mujehad Abdel-Qadir (Julius Brooks Jr), and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A memorial service will be held August 25, 2pm, at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, 2875 Claremont Blvd., Berkeley. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Episcopal Charities or California Revels.

This obituary was published in the San Francisco Chronicle on August 19.

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