Gail Wayne Brooks passed away in peace on April 28, 2020, at the age of 94.
Gail was born on October 15, 1925, to Dora Mable Furman and Charles P. Brooks. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He learned to love fishing at a very young age, riding his bicycle to many of the area lakes. He loved the out of doors always. He played the clarinet starting young and played with his brother, Jack, in the Minneapolis Police Band. Gail graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1943 and enlisted in the air force. He trained and flew B-29 bombers as a tail gunner and radio operator. On his first training flight over water off Puerto Rico, his plane developed engine trouble and crashed in the Caribbean. He was one of five survivors, all badly burned, in a life raft for two days. He was assigned to a new crew and while stationed in Manila, took part in seven bombing missions over Japan. He was discharged in 1945. Not long after his discharge, he lost his brother, Jack, when he was part of the refueling of the Anola Gaye on her around the world flight.
He started working with Northwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1946, met Betty Youngstrom on a blind date, and married on August 23, 1947. He continued with NW Bell working in many Minnesota areas, finally moving to Bemidji in 1957 when telephone service went to dial.
Gail took early retirement after 32 years with the telephone company and was able to fulfill his dream of building a log home on the Mississippi River. Gail loved music and singing. He played clarinet in the Bemidji City Band for several years. He was a member of Bemidji United Methodist Church since 1957 and sang in the church choir all those years. Gail loved to fish, taking many wonderful trips with his sons, grandsons and close friends across the country. He was an avid fly fisherman and made many of his own flies. He helped teach fly tying to 5th grade students at Northern Elementary School for three years. Gail was one of the founding members of Bemidji Chapter of Trout Unlimited. He loved gardening and hunting on his own acreage and continued fishing with many friends as long as he was able.
Preceded in death by parents, one sister, Ferne (Les) Johnson, and brother, Jack (Helene). He is survived by his wife Betty of 72 years, children Mike (Donna), Michele (Duane) Sheets, Jack (Julie), Debra, six grandchildren and many great grandchildren.
Memorial donations in memory of Gail can be made to Trout Unlimited Headwaters Chapter 642, 9815 Aspen Ave NW Bemidji MN 56601 or Bemidji United Methodist Church - Grand Piano Fund, 924 Beltrami Ave NW, Bemidji MN 56601