Richard Henry Brooks Sr. was the founding president of the Rim Country Classic Auto Club, but he never had a car in the club’s big Beeline Cruise-In Car Show. However, he remained the club president until he moved away.
Brooks died earlier this month (April 6, 2012) at his home in Candy Kitchen, N.M., where he had moved in 2000 from the Rim Country.
One of the early members of the club, Larry Bertram, took the time to visit with The Rim Review and Payson Roundup about Brooks and the club’s earliest days. He joined about three months after the group “formalized” itself into a club with a few by-laws, officers and a membership list.
“It was mostly just a bunch of guys who would get together for about an hour and lie to each other,” Bertram said, describing the club.
Explaining Brooks’ lack of participation in the show, Bertram said he had a 1949 Packard when the group started meeting, then he had two, a third was added and finally, he had four of them when he died. But none of them was ever show-ready. Brooks was always restoring the vehicles, but never finished any of them.
“It was an ongoing joke. I had a ’49 Crosley that I was always restoring, but never had it ready for a show. One of Rich’s grandsons — Virgil — has one of the Packards and is continuing the work. Rich’s brother, Don (who still lives in Payson) told me he has the money, time and talent to get it done too. But I’ll beat him. There is only about two weeks of work left to do on my Crosley.”
Bertram said the car won’t be ready for the Cruise-In this weekend, but he will have it in other shows this year.
Brooks, and another founding member of the RCCAC, Rolly Lee, both worked at Phil White Ford when the club was organized.
“I had great admiration for Rich. He was a good technician and good manager. He had a tremendous amount of knowledge about cars,” Bertram said.
It was because of Brooks and Lee the group first met at Phil White, he said.
“We had about 12 couples in the group then, so 24 people. That was one of the unique things about the club, both women and men were involved, and many of the women had their own (collector’s) cars,” Bertram said.
The club membership outgrew the meeting room at Phil White, so moved to a room at the Crosswinds Restaurant at the Payson Airport. It continued to grow and moved to meeting space at the Mazatzal Casino.
“We had to use the bingo hall we had so many people,” Bertram said.
Now the group meets in the back room at Tiny’s Family Restaurant. Bertram said there are usually about 50 to 60 people at every monthly meeting — sometimes the participation reaches as high as 80. He said the club easily has more than 100 members now.
Brooks is survived by his wife, Beverly Brooks; his children, Richard Henry Brooks Jr., Patricia Brooks, David Brooks, Barbara Bellamak, William Brooks, and Linda Morris. Also surviving are his brother, Donald Brooks; seven grandchildren, Sam, Angela, Lindsey, Stephanie, Duncan, Al and Virgil; four great-grandchildren; four step-grandchildren and nine step-great-grandchildren.
Donations may made in his name to Candy Kitchen Mission, HC 61 Box 2026, Ramah, NM 87321 or New Mexico Cancer Center, 4901 Lang Ave. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.