By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
3:51 PM EST, February 24, 2013
Amelia J. Brooks, a retired store manager and active church member, died Feb. 16 from heart failure at a daughter's home in Buford, Ga.
The former longtime West Baltimore resident was 90.
The daughter of a cobbler and a housekeeper, the former Amelia Juanita Soden was born in Baltimore and raised near Harlem Park.
Mrs. Brooks was a 1941 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and at an early age began attending church at Union Baptist Church and Douglas Memorial Baptist Church.
"She loved to play the piano during this time of her life and, as friends recount, she could put 'a roll on those keys,' much to the delight of the other children moving to her melody," said her son, Dudley Morris Brooks of Chicago, former assistant managing editor of photography at The Baltimore Sun.
Also during those years, Mrs. Brooks studied classical dance, her son said.
In 1943, she married George Morris Brooks, a career Army officer, whose unit was preparing for deployment for the European theater.
During World War II, Mrs. Brooks volunteered with the American Red Cross. When her husband was sent to Korea in 1950, she joined with several other military wives whose husbands were assigned to the Winchester Street Armory, home to the African-American-comprised 231st Transportation Truck Battalion, and founded the Officers Wives Club.
The members used their efforts to support the work of the American Red Cross. And when her husband later held assignments at the Fifth Regiment Armory and the Pikesville Armory, Mrs. Brooks became active in similar women's groups.
Her husband of 55 years, who had attained the rank of brigadier general, died in 2001.
After her three children were raised, Mrs. Brooks went to work in the early 1960s at Hutzler's department store on Howard Street, and later became manager of the Card Mart in Mondawmin Mall.
Mrs. Brooks worked for a decade as manager of Uniform City on Howard Street before retiring in the 1980s.
She was an active member for more than 40 years of Mount Ararat Baptist, where she was a member of the usher board and had been church secretary.
Mrs. Brooks, a longtime resident of Longwood Street who moved to Buford in 2007, enjoyed travel and playing cards.
"Family members, friends and neighbors not only looked up to her, but also looked to her for supportive words, a helping hand, or just to relish her joyous smile and witty personality," her son said.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Union Baptist Church, 1211 Druid Hill Ave.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Brooks is survived by two daughters, Muriel Elois Brooks of Buford and Angela Amelia Brooks of West Palm Beach, Fla.; and three grandsons.
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