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Robert Johnson Brooks

The Rev. Canon Robert J. Brooks D.D., Episcopal priest for 46 years, died February 29, 2020, leaving behind a significant legacy in the areas of public policy and liturgics.

Canon Brooks was born and raised in Austin, and was the son of R. Max Brooks, noted architect of the LBJ Library, The Johnson Space Center, NASA in Houston, and the Labor Building in Washington, DC. Robert spent many years visiting President and Mrs. Johnson at the LBJ Ranch. He was a leader of young Democrats in the State of Texas and President of the Youth for Kennedy-Johnson in 1960. Robert was a member Austin High School’s Class of 1965 and graduated from St. Edward’s University in 1970 where he served as President of St. Edward’s University Students’ Association, Inc. and as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Answering a call to be a priest in the Episcopal Church he graduated from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, California in 1973. He was named vicar of All Saints, Baytown, Texas, by Bishop Milton Richardson in 1973. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Texas in 1974 serving All Saints for 10 during which he introduced the catechumenate, a rite to prepare candidates for baptism. During his time at All Saints, he earned a Master of Arts Degree in Theology/Theological Studies with an emphasis on liturgics from the University of Notre Dame. He also was a commissary to the Diocese of Namibia in southern Africa.

Following his service to the Diocese of Texas he was canonically resident, but not domicile, in the Diocese of Hawaii from 1983 until 1988 when he was transferred to the Diocese of Washington where he served on Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning’s staff as the national Episcopal Church’s Director of Government Relations for 10 years. During that time, he represented the public policy positions of the Church to the White House, Congress, Executive Branch, diplomatic community and foreign heads of state and government. He played a back-channel role for Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning during peace negotiations in El Salvador. For his extraordinary service, he was installed as lifetime Honorary Canon of the Diocese of El Salvador.

From January 2000 – February 2001 he was Director of the Business Partnership for a New Global Future where he organized the corporate coalition in support of full Congressional funding for debt relief for the world’s poorest countries which passed the U. S. Congress in October 2000. Beginning in 2004, he became rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Willimantic, Connecticut for several years. He retired to his beloved Texas for the last few years of his life while remaining canonically resident in the Diocese of Connecticut. Canon Brooks received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from CDSP in 2015.

Canon Brooks was equally at home discussing liturgy and public policy, which he interwove into his long ministry. He served on the Church’s Standing Liturgical Commission, was a member of International Anglican Liturgical Consultation (IALC), the North American Academy of Liturgy, and was an Episcopal representative to the Anglican Consultation on Liturgy and served as vice president of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission. After his retirement he served as chair of the Episcopal Urban Caucus, a social justice organization.

Despite his very busy life, he found time to serve as a Commander in The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, an organization where he enjoyed many friendships. He also was a longtime member of Friends of the LBJ Library.

Robert was preceded in death by his father R. Max Brooks and mother Marietta Moody Brooks. He was also preceded in death by former partner Kevin Gessler. Robert is survived by his partner and companion of many years, Adisak ‘Toi’ Nernbok, and Adisak’s son, Autophon ‘Auti”. Robert is also survived by one sister and 2 nephews. Further survivors include longtime friends: The Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, Garey Atkinson and Manuel Lopez, Robert H. Dunlap Jr., Lindy Hutchinson, Veronica Irwin, and Mike Walton; lifelong friends: Hector De Leon, Miguel Linares James C. Todd, and Bill and Marcy Leonard; along with a host of grieving friends, former parishioners, and former colleagues who cherished Robert’s fine intellect, his delightful sense of humor, and wisdom born of a long life well lived.

Please join us in celebration of Reverend Canon Robert Brooks’ remarkable life with a wake at Harrell Funeral Home, 1715 Kirby, Kyle Texas on Thursday, March 12th, 2020 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Funeral services will follow on Friday March 13th, 2020 at 11:00 am at Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church, 11819 S Ih 35, Austin, Texas, followed by a reception at Saint Alban’s. Interment will take place at Austin Memorial Park, 2800 Hancock Drive Austin, Texas at 2:30 pm, Friday, March 13, 2020.    

Please visit to share a fond memory, photograph, or condolence with Robert’s friends and family on his On-line memorial site.

Funeral assistance provided by Harrell Funeral Home 1715 Kirby Lane, Kyle, TX 78640 (512) 268-8200

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