Friday, September 07, 2012

"Give all to love; obey thy heart."


Surrounded by love and light, Louise Emerson Brooks died on September 2 from complications following cancer surgery. Born in upstate New York to Carson and Patricia Brooks, Louise was brought up in Richmond, Virginia with brothers Judson, Carson and Frederick. Raised in the Episcopal Church, her childhood rector was John Shelby Spong. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Louise attended the Rogers Hall School for Girls in Lowell, Massachusetts.

She fondly recalled summer visits to Los Angeles with her Uncle Hal – actor Hall Smith who played Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show – and was “bit by the show business bug” at an early age. After earning her degree in theater arts from the University of Richmond, Louise moved to Southern California to pursue an eclectic media career in radio, television and filmmaking.

She landed in Santa Monica where she met her best-friend-for-life Julena Lind -- and they began compiling an impressive resume of shared road trips, board games, holidays and major life events. In 1980 she broke ground as one of the first women producers for ABC’s Wide World of Sports at the Lake Placid Olympics – and whether it was producing a radio talk show or daytime dating show, writing a screenplay or consulting on an international game show, Louise brought her gifts and skills as a consummate media professional.

Her credits included “The Love Connection” and “Leeza” – for which she received an Emmy nomination. A member of the Screen Writer’s Guild she also taught screenwriting and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. One of her great career delights was combining her experience as a producer with her love of travel in her work for Warner Brothers as an international format production consultant – work that took her from Paris to Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur to Santorini.

Louise found her way back to the church of her childhood, becoming an active member at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills where she was a founding member of the congregation’s gay and lesbian ministry – and also served as a lay Eucharistic minister. It was in the context of that work that she met Susan. After knowing each other for a number of years as friends and diocesan colleagues they began dating in early 2003 – and they celebrated with great joy the blessing of their relationship … surrounded by friends and family … on February 18, 2006 at All Saints Church in Pasadena.

In recent years, Louise applied her vocational gifts to the work of media training and consulting for justice concerns, serving as the communication director for California Faith for Equality during the Prop 8 campaign and working with the Human Rights Campaign nationally. In the Episcopal Church she was a valiant leader in the movement for full inclusion for LGBT people and her legacy includes the Via Media teaching videos and the award winning “Voices of Witness” documentary series. She was extremely proud of the work she did when the IRS came after All Saints Church in 2005 and she counted as one of her greatest lifetime achievements equipping Ed Bacon to stay on message.

Her most recent project – “Voices of Witness: Out of the Box” -- was released in June and was influential in securing legislation to include gender identity and expression in the non-discrimination canons of the Episcopal Church. It will continue to change hearts and minds as it moves into wider distribution with study guides in both English and Spanish and a Spanish translation is in the works.

Louise’s passions included politics, travel and football; spending time with her beloved Luna, Juno and Baby; beating Julena at Scrabble, the Name Game or basically any game; and pointing out to Susan that the other freeway lane was moving faster. She was a loyal friend, loving sister and partner and faithful truth teller. She loved good wine, action movies, and using her gifts to make a difference.

Louise is survived by her partner of nine years Susan Russell and stepsons Jim and Brian; her brother Fred Brooks, his wife Joy and son Clayton; her decades-long sister-friend Julena Lind, her husband Leon and son Jackson; along with scores of colleagues and friends.

In our grief at her loss, we take comfort in the words of Bishop Steven Charleston, which will be part of the celebration of her life at All Saints Church in Pasadena on Saturday, September 8 at 11:00 a.m.
I rise to sing the joy of simply being human. I do not deny the pain I have known, the losses and the grief, but I will not let bitterness be all that I taste of life. There are too many sunsets that leave me standing still before their beauty, too many babies wheeled by in strollers that make me smile, too much love in the eyes I see from faces wrinkled by time but timeless in their wisdom. All of creation calls me to celebrate. All of life invites me to dance. Therefore I choose to carry my pain with head held high and walk the blessing way until the last lights fade.

23 comments:

Suzer said...

This is a wonderful remembrance. I'm so, so sorry for your loss, Susan, and give my condolences to you and everyone who will miss Louise. It certainly sounds like her light shone brightly in this world.

Susan Hughes

Ann said...

Thanks Susan for giving us a snapshot of a life well-lived and well-loved.

Barbi Click said...

There is beauty in this words. Love magnified.

Susan Pederson said...

Thank you Susan. I can only offer my thoughts and prayers for you and the rest of the family at your time of loss. This is a wonderful snapshot of your Louise and I can only wish that I had the opportunity to meet her. God bless you, Susan. My prayers go with you.

egtrigg said...

So much I didn't know, and will always cherish what I do (including a recent rant about a near-empty gas tank). Each day this past week I have come across something-a tube of moisturizer, a jacket, text messages- that cause me to stop and yearn for just a few more minutes. The quality of my life was much improved by Louise's friendship, and I am proud to have known her. So damn funny, too!

Allie said...

Thank you for sharing this incredible gift with us. I wish I could have known Louise better, the world is a greater place for her life. Prayers for you and you family and loved ones.

Allie said...

Thank you for sharing this. The world is a better place for the life of Louise Brooks, who I wish I had gotten to know better. Prayers for you and your family and loved ones, and thank you for sharing Louise with all of us for the past decade.

Kathy Van Tassell said...

I still can't fathom that all of this is real. An absolutely beautiful tribute to our dear, LEB. I think she would've been pleased - especially with the faster lane of traffic line...excellent! Much love to you always and we will see you soon...

Rachel said...

So beautiful. What a life, what a soul, what a ride. Love.

GHerbert said...

Sad news and thank you for this chance to remember Louise. That wry smile that always graced her cheeks never hid for long her next idea or acute sense of humor.

--herb gunn

Rachel said...

Beautiful. What a life, what a joy, what a gift, what a teacher, partner, friend and soul. What a ride. Love you, love her.

Allie said...

So sorry for your loss, may your dear one rest in the arms of Jesus until you are reunited

blessings & love,

Allie xx

Allie said...

So sorry for your loss, may your dear one rest in the arms of Jesus until you and she are reunited ...

Blessings & love,

Allie xx

wayne Simmonds said...

Susan you are smiling down on us from the source of light, which gives us strength... WALK GOOD SUSAN

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Thank you for this, Susan. Isn't it marvelous to put to print a life that's truly been LIVED (in all caps?)

My prayers continue as you and all close to Louise mourn.

Jonipher Kwong said...

What a wonderful life Louise shared with us and how fortunate the two of you were to have 9 rich years together. I was only able to share but a few of those moments with her, but even then, I knew she was special and brought so much not just to the LGBT movement, but to the betterment of our world. May your legacy live on, Louise.

Aloha,
Jonipher

Jonipher Kwong said...

What a wonderful life Louise shared with us and how fortunate the two of you were to have 9 rich years together. I was only able to share but a few of those moments with her, but even then, I knew she was special and brought so much not just to the LGBT movement, but to the betterment of our world. May your legacy live on, Louise.

Kay & Sarah said...

This is such a beautiful tribute to Louise and Louise was such a wonderful gift to us all.......even those of us who did not know Louise personally.

Maureen said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. May your dear Louise rest in peace and rise in glory! Your legacy lives.

Unknown said...

Louise was a great friend to me going all the way back to when we were at All Saints Beverly Hills. Time took us to different parishes, but we remained friends and stayed in contact nevertheless. I had tremendous respect for her intelligence, her wit, her warmth, and her integrity and I am diminished, as we all are, by her loss. God bless you both, Susan.

Allie said...

So sorry xx

whiteycat said...

Thank you for this wonderful tribute. I regret that I never had an opportunity to meet Louise in person. Susan, may God's peace surround you at this difficult time.

JCF said...

Memory eternal. Thank you, gracious Lord, for the richly-lived life of our sister Louise. Comfort Susan and all who mourn her.