Lois Lorraine Brooks -- a.k.a. “Gma Lois" -- passed away peacefully Monday, Aug. 28, after a courageous, year-and-a-half battle with cancer.
Some carve their names into history through exploits in business, innovation or academics. Gma Lois created her far-reaching legacy by becoming a grandma … to everybody she met.
In her 86 years, no one ever parted from an encounter with Gma Lois not having been fed, made to feel loved and adopted into her family. She simply was born into a ministry of hospitality, and she faithfully lived out that calling until her final days.
Lois Lorraine (Lund) Brooks was born Sept. 11, 1936, west of Crookston, MN, on the family farm, to Walter and Ida (Dahl) Lund. She grew up an only child, with her only sibling passing away as an infant when she was 5. In the 1930s she moved with her family to Drayton, ND, where her father worked on the railroad. Railroad work then took the family to Fertile, MN, in the early 1940s, where she attended school.
In 1952, Lois married Lawrence Darwin “Bud” Brooks, who had enlisted in the military a year earlier, and the couple started their life together on a Colorado Army base for the next two years. They had nine children together; the oldest, Michael, passed away shortly after birth. More children would follow, Daniel, Deborah, Laura, Lonnie, Daren, Drew, Dustan and Devlyn, over the course of the next 21 years.
Lois officially became “Gma Lois” in 1975 when the first two of her grandchildren, twins, were born, thus inspiring her lifelong hobby of collecting grandkids, which at most recent count stands at 70, a number that will surely exponentially grow in coming years.
In 1987, Lois moved back to Fertile, where she lived for about a decade before moving to Bellingham, MN, and finally back to Crookston in 2013.
From a young age, while simultaneously raising her growing family, Lois began a nearly 50-year career in waitressing at small town restaurants from Crookston, to Fertile, to Beltrami, MN, including Roberts, The Irishman’s Shanty, Diamond Club and Country Kitchen in Crookston, Mac’s Cafe in Fertile and the Beltrami Cafe in Beltrami.
Waitressing was more than a job to Lois; it was a God-given talent. She not only served patrons, she allowed Jesus to shine through her service. Lois’ regular patrons would walk through the front door, and she’d have their order, known by heart, placed in front of them as they sat down. Some 20 years after she retired, customers still share with her children fond memories of how Lois made them feel as a customer.
Lois loved music, singing in the church choir when her children were young, and taking every opportunity to dance, no matter what was playing. In fact, it was a rite of passage for her grandchildren to be pulled onto the dance floor at family weddings.
In the mid-1980s she went back to night school to earn her G.E.D, and then took college classes at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, an accomplishment of which she was immensely proud; later she became a successful independent Watkins salesperson for years; and in her 70s, she became an official “Foster Grandparent” at elementary schools in Moorhead and Crookston. Lois loved this job with all her heart, and would have continued much later in life if her body wouldn’t have put up a protest.
Lois also loved to produce beautiful needlepoint projects, raise house plants, garden and can the fruits of that labor, and raise dogs, her most beloved being -- Chewie -- who preceded her in passing.
Lois is survived by her children, Deborah Koolstra of McBain, MI, Laura Sweet of Rockmart, GA, Lonnie Brooks of Crookston, Daren Brooks (Carol Steinhoff) of Crookston, Drew Brooks of Grand Forks, N.D., Dustan Brooks of Kindred, N.D., and Devlyn (Shelley) Brooks of Moorhead, Minn.; her daughter-in-law Teri Brooks of Sauk Centre, MN; grandchildren David (Jenny) Koolstra, Doreen (Shawn) Flynn, Daisie (Johnny) Arndt, Dwight (Sarah) Koolstra, Linda (Scott) McClure, Dawn (Jim) Wade, Misty (Michael) Murietta, Peter Russling, Forrest Steinhoff, Taushia (David) Henkel-Johnson, Wesley Shoults, Brandi Flaten, Drew Brooks Jr., Vincent Brooks, Harley Hilde, Jared (Amy) Brooks, Garrett (Anna Steinwand) Brooks, Carter Brooks, Ava Heitman, Siriana Heitman, and Maressa (Josh) Rousslange; 35 great-grandchildren, and 13 great-great-grandchildren; her nieces, Cheri (Scott) Smart and Ida Bubendorf; and the Vance family, special lifelong family friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Ida; an infant brother, Walter; sons Michael and Daniel; son-in-law, David Koolstra; grandson, Travis Sorenson; brother- and sister-in-law, Wally and Jeanette Bubendorf; and nephew, Steve Bubendorf.
A Gathering of Family and Friends will be on Friday from 5:30 PM until 7:00 PM, with a Prayer Service at 7:00 PM in the Benedictine Living Community, Villa St. Vincent Chapel, 516 Walsh St., Crookston.
A Celebration of Life for Lois will be at 2 PM, Saturday, September 2, 2023, in Faith Lutheran Church, Wolverton, MN, with family and friends gathering one hour prior to the service.
The burial will take place at 1:00 PM, Sunday, September 3, 2023, in Pleasant Hill Cemetery (formerly Concordia Cemetery), Fertile, MN. to be followed by a reception open to the community at the city park shelter and splash pad. Lunch will be served.
(Korsmo Funeral and Cremation Service, Moorhead, MN)