2017-06-19 / Front Page

Coach Brooks’ funeral service marked by laughter and tears

By LARRY HILLIARD
Ledger Staff Writer

Gaffney head football coach Dan Jones described Cameron Brooks as outgoing, athletic and a good-looking guy.

And, Jones added, Brooks didn’t mind telling you that.

Amid tears and laughter, the Gaffney High football coach and teacher was remembered Friday evening in a memorial service at the Gaffney High gym.

Brooks, 55, died Tuesday after a brief illness.

Brooks was hailed as a dynamic athlete, ultra competitor, a man who would tell you exactly what was on his mind and, above all, a man who recognized the importance of love — on the football field, in the classroom and in his personal dealings with anyone he met.

Hundreds of people, including members of the Gaffney High football team, paid their respects during a 75-minute service that included speeches from his pastor, Sidney Norton, Jones, Director of Special Services Bessie Westmoreland, Gaffney High Athletic Director Mark Huff, Gaffney High teacher and baseball coach Jeff Osment, former Gaffney High assistant coach Kevin Phillips and friend Jerry Byars.

Telling stories, invoking Brooks-isms and praising Brooks’ zest for life, each of the speakers described a man who, both behind closed doors and in the public eye, lived and breathed his motto of having fun and living each day to the fullest.

“I was a head coach, defensive coordinator, teammate, but above all I was a friend,” Jones said, choking back tears. “You were always nervous what Cameron might say. He would say what was on his mind.”

For example, Jones recalled that soon after the Indians won a state championship and were awaiting their championship medals on the field, Brooks reminded then-superintendent Dr. Willie Ross that the coaching staff should receive a playoff stipend.

“I’m just happy that God allowed Cameron to be part of my life,” Jones said.

Westmoreland relayed stories on Brooks’ dedication as a P.E. teacher for students with special needs.

Brooks would design programs specific for each student’s needs.

“He would say I can’t believe that I get paid to play with my kids,” Westmoreland said. “Cameron loved his students.”

“He blessed so many lives and we are better because of the time we spent with him.”

Huff told the gathering that he never had a conversation with Brooks during which he didn’t laugh.

He also said that God called Brooks to become a coach.

As a younger coach, Osment said Brooks took him under his wing and they soon become the best of friends.

Osment relayed a story about Brooks’ insistence on having clean shoes.

Brooks referred to ugly shoes as “grass cutters,” Osment said.

In memory of his friend, Osment said he gave his shoes a good cleaning before the service.

In heartfelt remarks, Phillips portrayed Brooks as a loyal friend who was there for him in good and bad times.

“A lot of us don’t know what we’ll do now (with Brooks gone),” Phillips said “Somebody’s team (in heaven) needed a good coach.”

During the service it was announced the football team will dedicate the season to Brooks and pay tribute to the coach in a special way.

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