ForeverMissed
Stories

Reflections...

Shared by Sharron Terrell on August 29, 2020
Some 39 years ago, while I was fumbling my way through my first semester as a University of Notre Dame PhD student, God blessed me by introducing me to Oscar and Kathryn Brookins.  I met Oscar first at a campus function.  Oscar and I spoke briefly and I gave him my telephone number.  Later that same day, I received a phone call from a woman who introduced herself as, “Kathryn Brookins.”  Kathryn explained that her husband had told her I was a first-year grad student in economics. We spoke for a short-time and then she invited me to join her at a local political event. I accepted the invitation, and so began Kathryn’s and my 39-year relationship.

When I think about Kathryn, I remember the early days in South Bend, Indiana,--the many times I found inspiration sitting at the dining table or on the front porch of her home talking with her, her Mother and Oscar, about local and world events.  I recall eating apple-pie with ice cream and listening to Kathryn’s polemics on various topics and, sometimes, stories about her life’s experiences.  I remember Kathryn was also an environmentalist (even then).  She loved composting and would proudly display her compost heap to all who would venture a peak.  I remember Kathryn as a person of strong conviction, impeccable character and sincere devotion and commitment to her family.  I recall the devastation I felt when I learned the Brookins family was relocating 900 or so miles away to the City of Boston.  I remember wondering how I was going to survive my last years in grad school without Kathryn (and Oscar’s) support. My anxiety was misplaced, Kathryn did not drop me simply because we no longer lived in the same city.  

For the next 37 years, we maintained the connection Kathryn initiated from that one phone call. We would speak by phone, always about substantive matters. When Lili moved to DC where I was living, too, Kathryn made certain to include me in their family gathering and encouraged Lili and I to get together.  When Oscar traveled to DC to work or for conferences, Kathryn made certain I was at the airport to meet him, drive him to his hotel and have at least one dinner with him. During times I traveled to Boston, I would visit them--Kathryn always made me feel welcome.  The last time we saw each other was at Laura's...

Last year, when Kathryn and I spoke, she didn’t remember me, but as usual, we had a  good conversation. As we were ending our call, I overheard Kathryn tell Oscar I was a “nice woman”…that was good enough for me.

I will always remember Kathryn and her generosity in unselfishly sharing herself and her family--she will remain in my heart forever! 

To Oscar, Lili, Ari, Laura and Julia, who I have known these many years, and to Clifford, AnnaMarie, the Grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I extend my heartfelt condolences.

Poem for Kathryn at 83

Shared by Elizabeth Doran on August 24, 2020

Written in October, 2019

She sleeps fully clothed.
One shoe on, one shoe off
the dog’s face on her thigh.
The bed is in the living room.

Three more dogs sleep
two on the couch
one in a dog bed.

The whir of a fan 
breaks the quiet of
the October afternoon.
The tall pine tree outside the window
being gently moved by the wind.

A clock ticking.


Kathryn’s 80th Birthday Gala

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 15, 2020
In 2016, Kathryn was feted at a birthday celebration including friends and family from near and far.

Memorial Service July 28, 2020

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 15, 2020
We had a small backyard memorial service on July 28 to honor Kathryn on her passing. Nearby friends and family joined us (suitably masked and distanced) and the Catholic order of brothers who live across the street officiated the service.

Memorial Service July 28, 2020

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 15, 2020

Memorial Service July 28, 2020

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 15, 2020
Ariana vocals, Frankie cello
”Ripple” from the Grateful Dead

Memorial Service July 28, 2020

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 15, 2020
Poem by Elizabeth Doran

For Kathryn Brookins

In the photograph you
are the tallest one, wearing Levi’s circa 1950’s.
You who took your babies 
to Africa-down the Nile 
the story goes.
At your sixtieth 
birthday party 
you said “I have 
enjoyed the years
all sixty.”
You looked young 
still beautiful, regal.
Never even a hint of lipstick.
Now, at eighty you
wander around lost
wondering what happened.
All the loveliness fading-
night coming on.  

Brookins vs School Busing in South Bend

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 14, 2020
See pdf for copy of 1983 South Bend Tribune article on Kathryn’s activism in South Bend.

Pressure of the Press

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 15, 2020
See pdf for 1992 Boston Globe article about the beginning of the Mission Hill News. 

Kathryn’s fight against Harvard Med construction

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 14, 2020
See pdf for copy of 1992 Boston Globe article about Kathryn’s fight against Harvard Medical School’s garage construction.

Suit against garage construction

Shared by Laura Brookins on August 15, 2020
See PDF for 1992 Boston Globe article about Kathryn’s efforts to stop (another) poorly permitted project. 

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