LAKELAND, Fla. - Sarah Matilda “Tillie” Eaker Brooks, 94, of Lakeland Florida, passed away peacefully on May 21, 2020 at Lakeland Regional Medical Center.
She was born December 18, 1925, in Crouse, N.C. to Bessie and William Webb Eaker. She had a memorable childhood that was fueled by love of family, faith, and community. As a member of the “Greatest Generation”, she did her part by working in the Manhatten Project during World War II, which, even though the workers were unaware, eventually developed the atomic bomb. She was the first in her family to graduate from college and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Math Education as a single parent later in life.
Faith and family were the constants in her life. She outlived her three brothers, Max, Seybourn, and Ralph, her husband, Jim Brooks, her son, Joe, and recently her “Sunshine”, Don Grachek.
She raised five children, Tom McCloskey (Jane), Joe (deceased), Cynthia Latta (Frank), Eileen DiTullio (Tim), and Sandy Brooks and was a beloved “Nana “and “Grandmother”, to many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She has been an active member of College Heights United Methodist Church since 1962, and was a Sunday School teacher, Youth Counselor, choir member, committee member, and circle member. She considered herself the “Matriarch” of her family and was the glue that held the many nieces and nephews together after their parents passed away. She loved every member of her family unconditionally.
As a lifelong teacher, she touched many lives both in and out of the classroom. Her desire to provide knowledge, encourage greatness, and share her own gifts and talents was apparent in all she did. Her ability to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear“, was evident when she sewed clothing, curtains, and made hats from clearance fabric from a mill, crafted beautiful decorations from found objects, and transformed an unattractive room into a wonderland of lights, flower arrangements, and splendor for a holiday party. She wanted everyone to share her love of theater, music, and dance and was a master of procuring tickets to share this love with everyone who would go with her. She was resourceful, resilient, and relentless in her endeavors and will be missed by all who knew and loved her.
“Mom, Nana, Tillie, and Aunt Tillie” - You will be missed by those you have left behind but your memory and lots of good stories and laughs will be present as we hold you in our hearts.
The family would like to thank all the special people who made it possible for Mom to remain in her home these past few years: caregivers, neighbors, and friends. She loved you and relied on you just as we have.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date at College Heights United Methodist Church and she will be buried with her parents and Joe at the Antioch Cemetery in Crouse, N.C.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to College Heights UMC for Community Outreach or another worthy charitable organization.
Heath Funeral Chapel & Crematory of Lakeland, Fla. Is serving the Brooks family.