One would hope to leave a legacy that would touch hundreds of people of all ages, races, professional and educational levels, and religious backgrounds. When 26-year-old Penn State architectural engineer alumnus Joshua Emanuel Brooks was laid to rest recently, this was the case. His “Homegoing Celebration” drew a full house to the Bethel Deliverance International Church’s sanctuary, 2929 W. Cheltenham Ave. in Wyncote on Dec. 19.
Brooks passed out while on the treadmill at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 4200 Wissahickon Ave, in Germantown. He was rushed to Chestnut Hill Hospital where he pronounced dead from an apparent heart attack. It came as a surprise to his family, church and employers since Brooks, a former linebacker football player, was healthy.
“The doctors still could not find any reason his heart stopped while jogging,” said Bruce Brooks, Joshua’s father, during the funeral’s reflections. “He was on the treadmill jogging and just collapsed. Like Elijah, he worked for God and got caught up….Joshua’s life was not in vain. He left from a place called the Salvation Army and now he’s with God’s army in heaven. Now he’s with Grandmom.”
More than a third of the sanctuary was filled with Home Depot supervisors and staff who came from Bristol and other Philadelphia stores for the ceremony. Brooks still retained his part time college employment at the home improvement store even after he got his professional job. All commented on the fact that Brooks often arrived to his second job still wearing his suit and tie.
Many others came from Penn State’s University Park campus, including the alumni association. “Some members of the alumni group even told his parents after the funeral that they wanted to pay for Joshua’s funeral,” said Henry Brooks, Joshua’s uncle. Many of the Penn State students and those who participated in the University Park chapel association were present.
Joshua Brook’s other uncle, Rickey Brooks, said he was visiting Philadelphia from Frederick, Md. to check on his North Philadelphia property. He got a call from his brother, Henry, who said they had to go to hospital to be with the family since Joshua had passed. That was on Thursday, Dec. 11.
“I then knew why I had to come home for Thanksgiving,” Rickey Brooks said. “That was the last time I would see him alive.”
Yet the thing that was stated over and over was Brooks’ smile, his willingness to help others, and his lifelong commitment to living a Christian life. The West Oak Lane native grew up attending the New Life Ministries International Church and then as an adult joined Bethel Deliverance. At Bethel he volunteered with the FOCUS Youth and Young Adult Ministries and was enrolled in the Bethel Bible Institute.
The Rev. Aaron Gray, assistant pastor of Bethel gave the eulogy. He said that many may question why “one of the good ones” passed when there are many who are engaged in illicit and even treacherous lifestyles. He pointed out that while 26 is considered young to die that it is more than a quarter of a century.
Gray said the many Facebook posts about the young Brooks proved he had already touched many lives and served as a positive role model. He recalled the last time he saw him was in the Bethel sanctuary for Bible study. “Some say that he was gone too son. We must trust and believe that all things turn out well and that God makes no mistakes,” the pastor said.
Brooks was born on Oct. 21, 1988, the youngest child of Bruce and Valerie Brooks. He attended Dobbins Vocational and Technical High School before graduating from the Charter High School for Architecture and Design. He was a member of the National Honor Society. While a student at Penn State he studied abroad at the Pantheon Institute in Rome in 2010. After earning his B.A. in 2012 he continued to work at Home Depot until he got a job at in landscape architecture. Besides his parents, he is survived by his older siblings, Bruce Books and Shermiah Brooks-Ballard.