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WALNUT CREEK — When Keith Brooks Jr. checked his inbox Tuesday, the day after his father’s death, he got a reminder that the 85-year-old never let technology pass him by.
“I came into work for a couple hours (Tuesday) morning and I had e-mail from him from the weekend,” he said. “That was weird.”
A few weeks earlier, his father had joined Facebook. The World War II veteran started working with computers when they were programmed by moving wires around, and he never stopped.
Keith Brooks Sr. was found dead Monday in a fire at his house in the 300 block of Drayton Court in Walnut Creek, according to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. The county coroner reported Tuesday that he died from smoke inhalation.
Born in San Bernardino, Brooks entered the Army in World War II and was put in an educational program at Stanford. But when the Army ran short of infantrymen, they were shipped out to Germany, said Herb Denny, a friend of Brooks who was in the program with him.
Brooks had learned to drive a truck in the Forest Service, so the Army made him a Jeep driver, Denny said. “He was a great guy … a very very quiet person,” Denny said. “Just a careful considerate kind of guy.”
After Germany fell to the Allies, Brooks and Denny were shipped to the Pacific theater. “We were intended to invade Japan,” Denny said. But they never got past the Philippines, he said, because the atomic bombs ended the war.
Decades later, he visited Germany again with his wife. “I remember him telling me one time that they’d gone and visited Hitler’s gardens,” Brooks Jr. said. “Last time he was there, the ground was still smoking from the bombing runs.”
After graduating with a degree in business from UC Berkeley, he worked for four decades at the Breuners furniture store. He and his wife, who died six years ago, raised their two sons in Walnut Creek.
He worked in accounting and insurance — and brought computing technology to the company when it was still brand new, Brooks Jr. said.
After he retired, he stayed active at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Walnut Creek, Brooks Jr. said, and would often come over to his son’s house on Sunday afternoons to watch sports. “He was just a hard worker, conscientious, very much of that ‘Greatest Generation,’” Brooks Jr. said.
One of his trips was with other members of the 86th Blackhawk Infantry Division. He created and maintained the webpage for the Acer now-disbanded division’s association of veterans.
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