Admissions staff member Patty Brooks will retire on July 28 after 45 years of working — 21 of which were spent at Newman as the admissions processing manager.
Brooks is originally from a little town called Nashville, near Zenda, Kansas, and was a ’73 graduate of Campus High School in Haysville, Kansas. She worked for several years at Farm Credit Bank and was looking for a new job when the position at Newman opened up, she said.
“I interviewed and thought, ‘Well, that would be a great job,’” Brooks said. “Plus, I just thought it would be interesting, a whole different change from what I had been doing in the past.”
During Brooks’ high school years, Campus had a program available for students to attend school in the mornings and work for local businesses in the afternoons. Brooks was one of 20 students to take advantage of this opportunity, she said, and after high school, she was hired to work full time for Intrust Bank.
“I worked at First National Bank, now Intrust, in the night-transit department,” Brooks said. “Each night after the bank closed, we balanced the day’s business and encoded checks. I worked there for eight years. It was a long time ago, but it was quite tedious work. So I’ve only had three really big jobs in my life — Intrust, Farm Credit and here.”
Brooks said the most rewarding part of her job at Newman has been meeting and getting to know the students. “In the past, a lot of them would come to our house,” she said. “We would cook them dinner and they would just hang out, which really meant a lot to me. And, of course, the people that work here make it special, too.
“I’ve worked with some wonderful people over the years that I’m really going to miss,” Brooks said. “That’s going to be the hard part. I don’t think I’d be here 21 years if I didn’t work with good people.”
Brooks said she will especially miss her co-workers and seeing the sisters around campus. She and Sister Catherine Shippen, ASC, who used to work at Newman as a receptionist in the Admissions Office, continue to meet for lunch three to four times each year.
“She’s pretty ornery,” Brooks said with a laugh. “That’s why we get along so well. I invited her to my retirement party, so hopefully she comes.”
One of Brooks’ most memorable moments at Newman, she said, was when she won a hula hoop contest that took place at one of the staff assemblies a few years ago. She hula-hooped the longest and was dubbed the official “Hula Hoop Queen.”
Once she officially retires, Brooks said her main goal will be to take care of her elderly parents more than she does now.
“They still live at home and I’m the only one here in town,” she said. “They’re 97 and 92, so that is my main focus. My husband’s dad is blind and lives in Missouri, but we hope to be able to take care of him, too, if we can.”
Brooks’ husband, Wes, who is three years older but shares the same birthday as her, retired at the end of June. In addition to helping their parents, the Brookses plan to spend more quality time with their children and grandchildren. They have two granddaughters that live in town and two that do not, but Brooks enjoys spoiling them as much as she can, she said.
The Brookses’ two daughters, Ashlee and Rachel, both attended and graduated from Newman. Ashlee graduated in 2005 and Rachel graduated in 2007. Wes decided to go back to school and graduated from Newman in 2007 as well, which allowed him to walk alongside Rachel at their shared graduation ceremony. “That was pretty cool to see,” Brooks said.
Brooks likes working outside in her yard and taking her dogs on walks, but she and Wes hope to eventually travel as well.
“My husband wants to go to Australia,” she said. “That is on his bucket list. So if we can do that, that’s what we want to do. It’s probably a long time coming, but that’s an awesome goal we want to achieve.”
Brooks also enjoys volunteering in her free time. She helps at the Lord’s Diner occasionally and has made several cucumber sandwiches over the years for the annual High Tea event that takes place at Newman. In 2007, after a tornado in Greensburg, Kansas, destroyed almost the entire city and claimed 11 people’s lives, Brooks and a group of friends gathered to help with the cleanup.
“It makes me feel good to know that I am helping somebody else that maybe can’t do something for themselves,” Brooks said. “It’s kind of like what I’m doing for my mom and dad. They’ve given me their whole lives, and I’m not going to have them forever, so I have to do that. I’m just so lucky to have them.”