Belvidere Brooks, Jr., after whom the Brooks Medal and Brooks House are named, graduated from Williams College with the Class of 1910. The son of Belvidere Brooks, general superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Co., Bel was born on December 15, 1888 in Galveston, Texas. Having lived in Texas, Colorado and New York, he and his family finally settled in New York. Bel played two years of football for Horace Mann Preparatory School before arriving in the Berkshires.
Bel started on varsity for three years playing right tackle, but his greatest achievements came senior year. That was the season that the mighty Ephs, captained by Brooks, fought valiantly and won the distinction of being the first team to cross Harvard’s goal line in two years. Victories over Cornell and Wesleyan were also impressive, but the 17 to 0 win over Amherst set to the cheers of, “There’s Captain Brooks a’comin’ down the line,” must be considered the crowning achievement of one of the most successful teams to ever don the purple and gold.
In addition to his accomplishments on the football field, Bel was a member of the Gargoyle Society and the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He played water polo in his sophomore and junior years and also held the position of class treasurer. After graduation, Brooks returned to New York to start his career as a broker. In April, he was commissioned Second Lieutenant of Infantry. Shortly before going overseas, Bel married Miss Rogers, a daughter of Frank Rogers of the Standard Oil Company.
In January 1918, he assumed command of Company D, 308th Infantry, 77th Division. After training overseas with British forces at the front, his command saw action near Badonviller, France. The night of August 21, 1918, the young Captain Brooks paid the ultimate price. Stationed with his unit at the entrance to a cave on a hillside above Villesavoye on the Vesle, Brooks and five other soldiers died instantly when a German shell burst at their feet while they were observing the effects of artillery fire upon enemy positions.
New York Times. 8 September 1918.
Williams College Class Book 1910.
Williams College in the World War. Williamstown, 1926.