PEMBROKE — Dalton Brooks, who left his mark on the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Robeson County’s education system and the religious community, died Friday. He was 75.
Brooks, of Pembroke, passed away at Southeastern Regional Medical Center suffering a heart attack this past week. As of late Friday, arrangements with Revels Funeral Home in Lumberton were still incomplete.
“He was one of the most humble human beings that I have ever met,” said the Rev. Mac Legerton, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Community Action, where Brooks served as chairman of the board of directors for 10 years. “He would not have wanted to draw attention to himself or his accomplishments, but they are so great in number.”
Brooks completed his undergraduate studies at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where he later returned to teach physics for three decades. He received his master’s degree from Temple University and a doctorate from the University of Miami.
While teaching at UNCP, he also served as the pastor of Dundarrach Baptist Church in Hoke County for nearly 40 years.
In 1988, when the five public schools systems in the county merged, Brooks was selected as the chairman of the Board of Education for the newly-formed Public Schools of Robeson County. He also was elected as the first chairman of the Lumbee Tribal Council when it was formed in 2001 — a seat which his brother, Paul Brooks, now holds.
According to Legerton, Brooks was a natural leader in the church and among his people, never knowing a stranger or seeing the color of one’s skin.
“That is why he was elected a chairman of the public schools, during such a contentious time, he was such a reconciler,” Legerton said. “He will be sorely missed as a spiritual leader, reconciler, and a model of kindness and compassion.”
Member of his immediate family were not available to comment for this story.
Surviving are a wife, a son and two daughters.
The Rev. Michael Cummings, a cousin of Dalton Brooks, gathered with other family members at Brooks’ Pembroke home to share their memories.
“One of my first memories of Dalton was in church,” Cummings said. “He was deeply committed to the church. He and his wife both were.”
Cummings called Brooks one of the most highly regarded intellectual members and leaders of the Lumbee community.
“He was just a sweet man,” Cummings said. “He was a most loved pastor. He spoke with such passion, but also such skill and intellect. You have a combination there that produced such an incredible person.”