Gloria Brooks died peacefully early Tuesday morning at her home in West Tisbury, with her daughters Darleen Bungey and Geraldine Brooks beside her. She was 95.
Born in Australia in 1919, Gloria loved to recount one of her earliest memories: walking up the hill near her childhood home, watching the construction of the Sydney Harbor Bridge as the two great arcs reached out toward each other across the water. Later she was delighted when a man on horseback disrupted the high ceremony of the bridge opening by galloping past the astonished dignitaries to slash the ribbon with a sword. Gloria loved nothing better than a sense of humor, and often used her own sharp wit to slice through pomposity.
She loved Australia, and was a passionate defender of everything from its suburban street trees to its great wilderness areas. Well into her 70s, she was still writing incisive essays and taking part in street protests for peace, social justice, and the environment.
Gloria’s doorbell never stopped ringing, as people gathered for her bottomless cups of tea, her wit and kind wisdom. At Christmas, everyone from the postman to the doctor’s receptionist received one of her legendary fruitcakes.
At school, a teacher once chastised her: “Gloria, I don’t know what will become of you. You can’t do anything but talk, and no one’s going to pay you to do that.”
The teacher was wrong: Gloria became a radio presenter with her own show in the nation’s capital.
Later she worked as publicity officer for the renowned Colgate Palmolive Radio Unit, where she met a handsome Californian singer, Lawrie Brooks, who fell for the beautiful young woman with gardenias in her hair.
She moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 2008, and in her 90s made many friends with whom she shared music, laughter, dancing, and dramatic performances, both at her home and at the Supportive Day Program of the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living. Her grandchildren, Cassie and Sam Bungey and Nathaniel and Bizu Horwitz, have many wonderful memories of her playful, loving spirit.
Donations in her memory may be made to the Supportive Day Program, Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living, PO Box 1729, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.