James P. “Jim” Brooks Jr. could always be found with a smile on his face, telling a funny story, making sarcastic jokes, and spreading laughter wherever he went. It is no wonder his WVFD brothers and sisters wanted him around during both the good and the most difficult times. He had a way of making situations better most of the time. He was just as stubborn as he was funny, though, so when things needed to get done, they were done the way he thought they should be, which was usually right.
Like most young boys, Jim dreamed of being a fireman, but his true excitement for the fire department began when he joined the Fire Explorers at age 14. Excitement quickly became a passion of service when he officially joined the WVFD. Throughout his 27 years of volunteer service, Jim made his way through the ranks and served his final call as the 2nd assistant chief. He was made a lifetime member of the department just prior to his accident in early 2020. He was a Class A Interior Firefighter who was always the “go-to guy” when the department or community needed him.
Jim’s true loves were his rescue dogs, Jake (2009) and Chance. They quickly became as well known in the community as Jim was. Jake, his escape artist, was often delivered back home by a village police officer. Jake would sit upright in the backseat, so proud of himself and happy to see his “daddy.” Jim’s love for animals, especially those in need of rescue, led many others to adopt.
Jim was often surrounded by friends, kayaking, golfing, playing poker, or enjoying a social event. The crew of friends was never complete without his lifelong friend, Jeffrey Rice. If not with friends, Jim loved spending time with his parents, his older sister, Kathleen, and her son, Trevor. Jim and his mother, Maura Lafayette, were as close as a mother and son could be. Jim called her every morning with the greeting, “Just checking in.” That is something she holds dear and misses every day. He and his father, James Sr., took long drives, often bringing their fishing poles along in case they found a good spot. His sister, Kathleen, misses their almost daily conversations. They shared the same sense of humor, and the laughs were always abundant, often causing their mother to roll her eyes as she laughed along. Jim’s younger sister, Johnna, and her children, Brenna, Logan, and Autumn, share in missing him deeply.
The loss of Jim has left his family, friends, and community with a missing piece that can never be replaced. His family is beyond proud of the man he became. He was loved and respected by so many.