Brooks in September 2021, holding a photo taken during his military service (photo credit: Morgan Ligon Owens)
|Birth:||12 September 1909|
Norwood, Louisiana, USA
|Death:||5 January 2022|
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
|Age:||112 years, 115 days|
Lawrence Nathaniel Brooks Sr. (12 September 1909 – 5 January 2022) was an American supercentenarian who had been the oldest known living man in the United States since the death of Irving Piken on 27 February 2020 until his death. In addition, he was believed to be the oldest living person in the state of Louisiana, the oldest living American veteran of World War II, and the second-oldest known living World War II veteran in the world (behind Mollie Walker) at the time of his death. His age is currently unvalidated by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG).
Brooks was born in Norwood, Louisiana, United States, on 12 September 1909 to Edward and Julia (Bailey) Brooks. Brooks was one of 15 children in a farm family living in Norwood. He moved to New Orleans as a young man, working in a laundry and parking cars before the Army called. He had three uncles who fought in World War I, and his brother, Chester, was a member of the United States Coast Guard. Brooks married two times. His second wife was Leona B. Brooks. He had 5 children.
World War II
Brooks received his draft notice at the age of 31. He was sent to Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, then San Antonio and Beaumont, Texas, and finally Fort Polk, where the group participated in the famous Louisiana maneuvers during the spring of 1941. He joined the United States Army in 1940 and did basic training at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
He served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. In 1942, the battalion spent 48 days on the RMS Queen Mary in a voyage from New York to Australia, a voyage made longer as the liner zigzagged to avoid German submarines in the Atlantic and Japanese ones in the Pacific. He served three white officers in his battalion, and his daily routine included cleaning the officers' sheets, shining their shoes, making sure their uniforms were clean, and accomplishing any task these officers asked of him.
Brooks attained the rank of Private 1st Class during the war. During his service, he had two alarming encounters. While he was stationed in New Guinea, the Japanese bombed the base where he was located. Additionally, Mr. Brooks was on a C-47 going from Australia to New Guinea, transporting a load of barbed wire when one of the engines went out. The crew had to work quickly to lighten up the load in order to make the plane light enough to continue on.
After the war, he worked as a fork lift operator before retiring at age 70. In 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, a few days after the levees failed and New Orleans flooded, Brooks moved to Los Angeles. He was widowed in 2005 when his second wife, Leona, died shortly after they were evacuated by helicopter following Hurricane Katrina. However, he returned to New Orleans a little more than a year later.
Brooks was considered to be the oldest living male American veteran of World War II, succeeding Richard Overton who died on 27 December 2018. He celebrated his 110th birthday in September 2019. At that time, he had 13 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. Brooks was able to walk with the help of a walker.
On 8 February 2021 at the age of 111, he received his COVID-19 vaccine, making him one of oldest people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
In November 2021, Brooks was reported to still be lucid, but had been deteriorating rapidly in health.
He became the oldest known living American veteran of World War II, following the death of Kathryn Shelley on 12 November 2021. He became the oldest known living male World War II veteran in the world, following the death of Marcel Meys on 15 December 2021.
He lived with his daughter, Vanessa (aged 59 in 2019), on Clara Street in New Orleans.
Brooks died in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States on 5 January 2022 at the age of 112 years, 115 days. He was also the last surviving American man born in 1909, and in the 1900s decade. Following Brooks’ death, Ezra Hill became the oldest known living man in the United States.
- HONORING LAWRENCE BROOKS U.S. Government Publishing Office, 15 September 2014
- New Orleans World War II vet turns 110, with a big museum party and 'plenty of kisses' NOLA.com, 9 September 2019
- The oldest US World War II veteran received more than 10,000 birthday cards from around the world for his 111th birthday Insider, 12 September 2020
- Today, 111-year-old Lawrence Brooks, the nation’s oldest living WWII veteran, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Facebook Post, 8 February 2021
- Facebook Post 7 September 2021
- 112th birthday Facebook, 12 September 2021
- Oldest Living WWII Veteran Celebrates His 112th Birthday with Drive-By Party in New Orleans People.com, 13 September 2021
- America’s oldest World War II vet just turned 112. He stood from his wheelchair and danced. Yahoo! News, 15 September 2021
- The oldest living WWII veteran, now 112, wants to be remembered as a ‘good soldier’ Military Times, 11 November 2021
- An American hero passed away this morning. Lawrence Brooks, the oldest living WWII vet at 112 years old. Gary Sinise (Twitter), 5 January 2022
- Oldest WWII veteran in U.S., Lawrence Brooks, dies at 112 in his New Orleans home WWL-TV, 5 January 2022
|United States' Oldest Living Man Titleholders (V • E)|
Charlie Nelson • Charlie Phillips • Mathew Beard • Joe Thomas • Alphaeus Philemon Cole • Alton Gilbert • Oscar Dubois • James Wiggins • Frederick Frazier • Christian Mortensen • Johnson Parks • Walter Richardson • John Painter • John McMorran • Fred Hale • Earl Brush • Moses Hardy • Thomas Nelson • Antonio Pierro • George Francis • Walter Breuning • Shelby Harris • Salustiano Sanchez • Alexander Imich • Conrad Johnson • Wash Wesley • Felix Simoneaux • Frank Levingston • Clarence Matthews • Richard Overton • Henry Tseng • CP Crawford • Irving Piken • Lawrence Brooks • Ezra Hill