OLIVER WENDELL Brooks, a 25-year city employee, church and community leader and a man who knew how to have a good time with friends and family, died Nov. 24. He was 80 and lived in Mount Airy.
He joined the Department of Public Health in 1960 as chief of the Health Education Division. In 1966, he went to work for the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and became a supervisor in the Community Relations Division.
Because of his writing skill, he was called on to write speeches for the late Mayor James H.J. Tate. He retired in 1985 after 25 years with the city.
Oliver was born in Atlanta to Joseph Tate and Sadie Bagley Brooks. The family later moved to Montgomery, Ala., where he graduated from Alabama State Laboratory High School in 1942.
He graduated from Morehouse College, in Atlanta, with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Later, he attended New York University and received a master's in public health administration in 1951.
While at NYU, he met his future wife, Irma Clarissa Latimer. They married in 1952.
They lived in Hartford, Conn., for a time before moving to Philadelphia in 1960.
Oliver had a passion for sports. He was a standout basketball player at Morehouse, and later coached basketball and track.
In later years, he played softball and was president of his bowling league.
It was a rare Sunday in later years during football season that he wasn't in his den watching the Eagles, or cheering them on at Franklin Field and later Veterans Stadium.
Oliver felt a strong need to give back to his community. He was a Big Brother for a time, helping a fatherless young man, and was a member of the board of managers of the Columbia Branch of the YMCA. He was awarded the Silver Triangle Award for his work with the Y.
He was a firm believer in the old adage that "a family that prays together stays together," and the family joined Christ Church and St. Michael's Episcopal Church, in Germantown. He sang in the choir and helped out whenever needed.
"One thing that everyone can say about Oliver is that he enjoyed life," his family wrote in an obituary. "He loved to host his friends and neighbors and he was a central figure in the social scene." He and fellow members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity met frequently for social events and card playing.
"Often his two sons could be found in the family basement playing tonk with their father and mother," the family wrote. "Yes, his penchant for fun never dwindled."
Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, Byron and Oliver; a sister, Belle; and three grandchildren.