Cover photo for Johney Brooks's Obituary
Johney Brooks Profile Photo

Johney Brooks

d. October 1, 2016

Johney Brooks, 83, of Athens, NY, died Saturday, October 1, 2016 at Northeast Center for Special Care. Born in Clarksdale, MS, she was a daughter of Thomas & Beulah Johnson. Her father, a sharecropper, moved the family westward to start a new life, stopping first in Texas, where her mother succumbed to tuberculosis, and then onto California. Upon graduating from high school, she joined the Air Force in 1951 during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in 1953. She attended California State University Los Angeles studying physics, chemistry and biology, graduating valedictorian, and became a school teacher at Centennial High School in Los Angeles, then later obtained her masters degree in education to better serve her students. She moved her family to Uganda in 1969 where she served as a teacher trainer under the US State Department, and returned to the USA following a deteriorating situation in Uganda. Back in the US, she went on to complete her PhD in International Education at UCLA, served briefly as a professor at Humboldt State University in northern California, as superintendent in Sacramento Unified School District, before returning to her passion of serving humanity in its poorest climes. She served as Peace Corps Director in the Gambia, then worked at the World Centre of the Baha'i Faith in Haifa Israel, returned to the US State Department diplomatic service and actively sought out what most considered sometimes dangerous hardship posts, including Tunisia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Guyana, Turkmenistan where she opened its first US Embassy and thence to Papua New Guinea. Upon retiring, she then joined her son and his family in Bangladesh, where she helped to develop and open a school for disadvantaged children with the local Baha'i community. She returned to the US in 2004 and took up residence in Athens, NY where she continued to serve the Baha'i Faith on the Regional Teaching Committee. Always civic-minded, she volunteered at the senior center, local library and engaged in other community services until she suffered a stroke in November 2015, succumbing to her illness on 1 October 2016. Her life was a living illustration of how, from humble origins, one could consecrate their talents and abilities for the betterment of humanity, a principle in keeping with her beliefs as a member of the Baha'i Faith. Johney is survived by her daughter, Alexis Brooks De Vita of Houston, TX, her son, W. Abdullah Brooks and his wife Vanessa of Reisterstown, MD, a sister, Ellen Lomas of Los Angeles, CA, eight grandchildren, Johnea, Maryam, Novella, Jordan, Francesco, Mona, Joseph and Alexander. Two great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews also survive. A Funeral Service will take place on Friday, October 7, 2016 at 10:00 AM at the Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home, 411 Albany Ave. Interment with military honors will take place in New Paltz Cemetery. The family requests that memorial donations be made to: Defenders of Wildlife (, National Arbor Day Foundation (, or United Negro College Fund (
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Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, October 7, 2016

Starts at 10:00am (Eastern time)

Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home

411 Albany Ave., Kingston, NY 12401

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