ARTHUR “ART” EDWARD BROOKER (LT, USN, RET), of Falls Church, VA, born May 9, 1919 in Buffalo, NY. Died at Inova Fairfax Hospital on April 29, 2012, of an aneurysm. Predeceased by wife, June Evelyn Brooker, on August 9, 2011. Survived by daughter, Holly Laffoon (Larry) of Fort Washington, MD; son Michael Brooker, of Moultonborough, NH; son Jeffrey Brooker, of Falls Church, VA; and daughter Melissa Brooker, of Falls Church, VA. Also survived by granddaughters Heather West (Dan) of Waldenbuch, Germany; and Lauren McCloud of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Also survived by many nieces and nephews. Also survived by beloved cats, Lola Belle and Tommy. Predeceased by parents, Henry and Catherine Brooker, of Buffalo, NY and sister, Jane Miller, also of Buffalo. His maternal uncle was the noted American woodcut artist J. J. Lankes.
Art grew up on his parents’ farm during the Depression. He served in the U.S. Navy as a fighter pilot in the Pacific theatre in WWII, flying Hellcats on the USS Tarawa. Before enlisting, he worked at the Curtiss-Wright airplane factory in Buffalo and learned to fly “puddle-jumpers” such as Tailor Craft and Piper Cub airplanes. He married his beautiful bride, June Bergan, in 1944. A few years after the war ended, he re-enlisted in the Navy. He flew in air shows, sailed around the world, and had the time of his life. His career in the Navy eventually took him into the jet age, piloting Grumman’s F9F Panther and the F4U Corsair. Upon his honorable discharge, he earned an Associate’s degree in Engineering and worked at the Department of Defense in Washington, DC. After retirement from the civil service in 1983, he owned and operated an Ace Hardware store in Burke, VA for the next several years. He was later to work occasionally at Brown’s Hardware in Falls Church, VA, when he was in his eighties.
A heart attack at the age of 65 caused him to turn his life around. He immediately quit smoking, watched his diet, and stressed less. He gardened, canned, and created many things in his basement wood shop. In the 1990s, he became interested in computers and genealogy. He learned, thanks to the Bernardo’s charity in London, that his father had been raised in the Bernardo’s orphanage in London and was sent to Canada as a teenager to live and work at the home of a farmer. At the age of 80, Art traveled to England with June and Holly to visit the house where his father was born.
Art spent the last decade volunteering at the Family History Center in Annandale, VA. He loved all animals, especially cats, and was active in a local trap-neuter-return program for the feral cats in his neighborhood. He remained cheerful in the face of chronic back pain in the last years of his life. In his last months, he joined the NRA, using the pistol range at NRA headquarters in Fairfax, VA, up until the day before his death. He was still driving and was a remarkably active 92-year-old. Every day of his life was proof that his was indeed the greatest generation.
Inurnment to be at Arlington National Cemetery, date to be determined.
Those who wish to honor his memory are invited to make donations to Alley Cat Allies, your local animal shelter, or any organization that benefits animals.
Recalled To Duty ~ The Eternal Voyage
(An Ode To Sailors)
by Gary L. Edmisten, August 21, 2002
Bon Voyage to those who’ve set sail ~
We bid them farewell as we man the rail.
Let us be Joyous and let us not weep ~
For those who have now crossed over the deep.
When a Sailor’s last roll call is made ~
His final embarking shan’t be delayed.
So lower the Colors, let them be furled ~
Each time a Sailor disembarks this world.
The crew onboard in Heaven awaits ~
The Eternal reunion of their mates.
They’ll be welcomed home by those onboard ~
Moored in peaceful waters with the Lord.
As he approaches, he’ll call “Ahoy! The ship!” ~
Now in safe harbor, an Eternal trip.
Then he’ll hear “Sailor on deck! Hoist the flag!” ~
“Help him get settled! Help stow his bag!”
Be it known that it’s a Divine remand ~
To ship in Heaven, ye Seafaring Man.
On permanent station forevermore ~
Peaceful duty for Veterans of war.
And when he’s weighed anchor for the last time ~
We’ll Honor his memory so sublime.
We’ll all reminisce and hoist a brew ~
In a Toast of Honor to the crew.
http://www.destroyerdivision38.com/Pages/NavyPoem.aspx, on 5/4/12