Leila Katherine Winstead Brooks
October 15, 1935 – April 2, 2019
Leila Katherine Winstead Brooks passed away Tuesday, April 2, 2019. She was born October 15, 1935, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston, Texas.
Leila’s earliest memories came from living on and near the Texas A&M campus, where her father’s position as Public Relations Director for Texas A&M meant she spent many hours on campus. Family friends included Justin and Lacy Loupot, and Manning and Nita Smith. She loved Military Walk in her later years since it was a part of A&M which hadn’t changed very much. Living in Brownsville and Mexico City, Leila became fluent in Spanish. Returning to Bryan, Leila graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School (1953) where she made lifelong friends and was a member of the Cheetahs social club.
Leila attended Texas Women’s University and was active in the Aglaians literary-social club. Offered the opportunity, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work for Congressman Olin E. Teague. There, she met and married Charles Kyle Osborne, Jr in 1957, and had daughter Marcy. Leila served as legislative liaison and executive secretary for the Congressman. Her role allowed her to meet many interesting people, such as all of the Gemini and Apollo astronauts since Mr. Teague was Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics.
Congressman Teague introduced Leila to Gene Brooks and, after a whirlwind romance, they were married on March 17, 1967. Within months, they moved to Bangkok, Thailand, where Gene was stationed with the Central Intelligence Agency. There, daughter Jennifer was born in May of 1968, and they lost a premature girl, Mary Katherine. Next, the family was stationed in Udon Thani, a hub for Air America near the Laotian border.
In 1970, the family moved to Falls Church, Virginia, where Gene began his Chinese training at the Foreign Service Institute, and Leila returned to work with Congressman Teague. For the second part of his training, Gene was sent to FSI in Taichung, Taiwan, where son Lawrence was born in 1972. Then, they transferred to Hong Kong where Leila worked at the embassy. The Central Intelligence Agency tended to move people around in groups, so great friends made in Thailand, showed up again in Hong Kong. Lasting lifelong friendships were made among the men, their wives, and their families like Bill and Ellie O’Brien, Karen and Jimmy Chiao, and General Jack and Ann Leide.
Returning to the US in 1976, the family settled in Duncanville, Texas, where Leila managed Congressman Teague’s district office. Upon his retirement, Leila next worked for Congressman Martin Frost and, eventually, Leila took a position she loved, working for Dr. Gene Herron at Southern Methodist University.
In 1986, Gene and Leila moved to Port Charlotte, Florida, where Leila became a certified Master Gardner while they both ran a One Hour Photo business. 2002 saw Leila starting a new life in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, near her previous friends Ellie and Karen. She became a real estate agent and traveled to Europe with friends. She was famous on the beach for her annual Black Eyed Pea & Bloody Mary parties. She also become a certified Master Gardener in North Carolina.
In 2009, Leila returned to Bryan, Texas, and went to work for her third member of Congress, the Honorable Chet Edwards, which was her final full time position.
While she lived in in Duncanville, Leila began researching her family genealogy and was an organizing member of the Old Chisholm Trail Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution. She became an advocate and volunteer for Children of the American Revolution and served as on the Texas Senior State Board. She helped organize the Three Forks of the Trinity Society. Wherever she lived, Lelia was an active DAR member serving as Chapter Regent for Old Chisholm Trail in Texas, Charlotte Bay Chapter in Florida, and Virginia Dare Chapter in North Carolina. She also served as a state committee chair in each state. She was an organizing member of the Three Missions Chapter in Cameron, and her final chapter home was the La Villita Chapter in College Station.
Leila was also an active member of the Mary Ann Lawhon Chapter of the Daughters Republic of Texas. She was honored to co-chair the State Sesquicentennial Committee, traveling the great state of Texas with her dear friend and co-chair, Billie Menefee. She was also a member of the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century, and the San Jacinto Descendants.
Her influence as a grandmother was felt by her surviving eight grandchildren: Marcy and Tommy’s children – Debra and Alex Heathman; Jennifer and Stacy’s children – Brittany, Brandon and Rhys Ginn; and Lawrence’s children – Austin, Ashley and Rialey Brooks. She is greatly missed by all – for to know her was to love her.
Lelia was preceded in death by her parents Louise Folk and George Byron Winstead and her older sister, Margery Louise Winstead. Please join the family for her memorial service on Sunday, May 19, 2019, at the All Faiths Chapel at Texas A&M University from 3 to 5 PM. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Texas Daughters of the American Revolution benefitting the Children of the American Revolution, at TXDAR, 15833 County Rd 236, Oakwood, TX 75855, or to the charitable organization of your choice. The family greatly appreciates the loving caretakers at both Fortress Health and Compassionate Care Hospice.
Our beloved Mother pushed us each to be our best. She would not allow us to sit on the sidelines and not achieve our full potential. She encouraged us to jump in and start working from the lowest position so we would learn how things worked from the bottom up. She was a hard worker and constantly strove to learn new things. Lelia was a great cook and mastered many Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes as well as classic all American favorites. She was always well put together – You rarely saw her without her lipstick and a huge opened mouthed smile.
We will and do miss her greatly.
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