Dr. Clarence Brooks made a difference by giving patients his skills and his heart

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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At a time when the country is deeply divided over the issue of healthcare — its quality, availability and expense — one crucial, precious element is often lost in the political discussion: the real person who is the patient.

Dr. Clarence Jackson Brooks, known as “Jackie” to family and friends and as “Dr. Clarence” to many patients, never lost his concern for ailing individuals or his commitment of service to an ailing community on which many had turned their backs.

At the Brooks Family Practice Clinic on Evans Avenue, in the heart of south Fort Worth’s African-American community, people knew there was a treatment door open to them regardless of their economic or social status.

Over the years, they got to know a man whose hands could heal and whose heart could feel; a medical doctor they not only respected and trusted, but one they also came to love.

For Dr. Clarence, some would say, he just couldn’t help it — his caring and serving were bred into him by two extraordinary parents, Dr. Marion “Jack” and Marie Brooks, both longtime “servants” and fighters for justice who were role models and mentors not only for their own five children but also for a generation of others who got to know them.

Dr. Clarence, 62, was born while his father was at Howard Medical School, and from an early age it was evident he would follow in his dad’s footsteps as a physician and a community change-agent. After graduating from the same medical school as his father, he joined the practice, and he naturally took it over after the elder Brooks died in 2003 at age 83.

Although there were other family members (an uncle and two cousins) who were doctors, Dr. Clarence uniquely carried on his father’s legacy by staying in a community where many residents felt they had no other medical alternative. He opened two other locations, one on the southeast side (now closed) and one in southwest Fort Worth.

He also did something else like his father. Believing that cost should not be a barrier to a child playing athletics, he provided free or near-free medical physicals for students involved in sports.

Dr. Clarence died of cancer Saturday, and his death has some wondering how many primary-care physicians like him remain to serve the underserved in the communities where they live.

How many doctors will there be to treat, counsel and comfort individuals who often don’t trust the medical profession and, in many cases, feel neglected by it when they do?

Here was a doctor who loved jazz, literature and, most of all, humanity. His soft-spoken but confident voice gave hope and guidance to many who entered his clinic or otherwise crossed his path.

As he lay dying peacefully in his home, the family said, the jazz music he loved was playing, as it will be at his wake Friday evening — a wake that won’t be in a religious sanctuary or funeral home but at the Evans Avenue clinic, which will be easily accessible to the patients and residents who became friends of Dr. Clarence.

On the other hand, that clinic in many ways was a sanctuary.

His wife said her husband did not want a “mournful, churchified” wake, but one where people could laugh, tell stories and rejoice while they listened to some soulful live jazz.

Indeed, all of Fort Worth and North Texas should celebrate the life of this remarkable man who followed in the path of his father, embraced his community and made a difference until the day he died.

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