Cover photo for John Brooks Davis's Obituary
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1925 John 2016

John Brooks Davis

November 15, 1925 — October 29, 2016

CARTERVILLE (Illinois) John Brooks Davis, 90, passed away at approximately 10:30 a.m., October 29, 2016 at Heartland Regional Medical Center, Marion, Illinois. Brooks was born November 15, 1925 in Paxton, Illinois. He was the only child of Guy Brooks Davis and Mary Davis.

Surviving are his sons Dean (and wife Joan) Davis, Scott (and wife Lynne) Davis; five grandchildren: April (and husband John), Holly (and husband Steve), Craig, Christopher, and Olivia; and two great grandchildren: Lorenzo and Kellan; and cousins.

In addition to his parents, Brooks was preceded in death by his wife Betsey Ross Davis, and his ex-wife Shirley Davis, the mother of his children.

Brooks enlisted in the Naval Air Force during World War II. He was a graduate of University of Illinois Champaign where he studied business. He had a very successful career in furniture merchandising and management, and was for years the manager of Baker, Knapp and Tubbs in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

Brooks was a patron of the arts, and a frequent attender of the symphony, the opera, and the theater. He also had an abiding passion for history, speaking on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War across the country. He also spoke about his distant cousin, Jefferson Davis, who was guarded by Brooks' grandfather at Fort Monroe after the war. Brooks' collection included first edition books published as far back as the 1880s, as well as original manuscripts, uniforms, muskets and swords.

Active in civic causes, Brooks served on many boards including Lincoln College, the Lyric opera and a multiple hospital cooperative effort to provide healthcare to the homeless. He served as the president of several organizations such as the Sons of Union Veterans, the Stephen A. Douglas Society and the Civil War Round Table.

Brooks was a member of St. James Cathedral in Chicago, where he served as warden and led the cathedral restoration committee. After moving to southern Illinois in 2015 he was a member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, and also attended Neighborhood Bible Fellowship, Victory Dream Center in Carbondale, Illinois, and St. James' Chapel in Marion, Illinois.

While he lived in northern Illinois following college, he always had fond memories of Paxton. He returned frequently, attending high school class reunions as long as they were held. He is survived by his cousins in the Pacey family.

Brooks spent many summers at White Lake, Michigan enjoying sailing, swimming, canoeing and rowing. He gave himself wholeheartedly to preservation efforts and support of the Lighthouse Museum. He presented frequently at the Montague library book talks.

As long as he was able to, Brooks read the Bible and the Lincoln devotional every day. He is fondly remembered for his cheerful smile, his grateful attitude, and for the question he loved to ask of family and friends: "So what have you done for fun recently?"

According to his wishes, Brooks' body was cremated. Arrangements are being handled by Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale, Illinois.

Memorial services will be held at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Carbondale November 12 at 11:00 a.m. with reception following, and at St. James Cathedral in Chicago January 7, 2:00 p.m., with reception following. Burial will be private.

In place of flowers, the family requests memorials to St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 402 W. Mill St., Carbondale, IL 62901, or to Lincoln College, 300 Keokuk Street, Lincoln, IL 62656, for scholarships or the museum. Online condolences may be left at

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Reception will follow service.

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