Bill J. Brooks

Memorial services for Bill J. Brooks, 84, will be at 2:00 p.m. Monday, March 16 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 New Hampshire Street, Lawrence, Kansas.

Mr. Brooks was born on August 16, 1930 in Ottawa, Kansas, the son of Bill and Alice Brooks. He graduated from Ottawa High School in 1948, and from the University of Kansas in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He served in the United States Army in the Korean action in 1951 and was honorably discharged in 1954.

He married Grace L. Endacott of Lawrence, another K.U. graduate, on June 12, 1954 at Trinity Lutheran Church. They moved to Abilene, Texas, where Bill worked for three companies as an oil and gas subsurface geologist. He soon found that he was his own best boss, working independently in 1962 and for the next 40 years, forming Brooks Exploration Company in 1970. He made many large (and some small) oil and gas discoveries in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and North Dakota, and owned many oil and gas lease blocks in Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and Nebraska. He especially enjoyed the excitement of discovery, as well as working with investors whom he considered partners. The last 32 years of business activity were conducted from Denver, Colorado, discovering deposits such as Wagon Mound, Sheep Mountain (an extremely large CO2 entrapment in the Colorado Raton Basin), La Poudre, and Stanley fields. In the last 10 years before retiring in 2002, he bought and sold oil and gas well interests in the Williston Basin of North Dakota and Montana. Every day he searched for oil and gas was a day of fun and enjoyment.

Bill was a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists for 60 years, a charter member (#555) of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, a longtime member of the Independent Producers Association of America, the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, and the Abilene Texas Geological Society.

Bill played tennis for 30 years, primarily in Vail, Colorado and on the Oilman’s Tennis Circuit in Texas and Oklahoma. He served on the board of the Vail Racquet Club where he and Grace had a second home. He was an avid quail hunter in Texas, a pheasant hunter in Nebraska, and owned many English Setter bird dogs from the Duffield line. He and Grace traveled to Montana and Idaho annually for trout fly fishing. They retired to the 18th fairway at the Lawrence Country Club, where Bill won the “Q” golf tournament several times and celebrated a hole in one with his sports friends. In his spare time, he enjoyed cultivating tomatoes, watching birds, winning at gin rummy, and balancing rocks.

His successful marriage lasted over 60 years, which Bill was certain to convey “was not a record but a good average”.

Bill left this life for new discoveries on March 11, 2015, and is survived by his wife Grace, daughters Karen Rhea (Scott) of Pueblo, Colorado and Sara Czapinski of Lawrence, Kansas, four grandchildren (John Rhea of New York, NY, Stephen Rhea of Denver, CO, Alexis and Erik Czapinksi of Lawrence), and one sister Phyllis Rea of Colorado Springs, CO.

In recognition of Bill’s interests, and in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in his name will be made to the University of Kansas School of Geology and the KU Tennis team/facilities. Memorials may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.

9 Condolences

  1. Brooks Endacott on March 13, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Sending heartfelt condolences from all of the Endacott family. Uncle Bill will be missed very much by all of us. Prayers and comfort to all of you in Kansas. I sorry that I won’t be able to make his celebration ceremony on Monday, but I will be there in spirit and thinking about all of you. Love Brooks

  2. Joe Oberzan on March 14, 2015 at 11:45 am

    My deepest sympathy to Grace, Sara, Alexis and Erik and the rest of Bill’s family. Bill was a caring and devoted grandfather to his grandkids and really enjoyed watching them play tennis. Although I am in Arizona and will miss his services on Monday he will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    Joe Oberzan

  3. Jerry Bailey on March 14, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    The notice of Bill’s passing in the Denver Post came as a surprise and shock. He and I had a long and interesting friendship with a number of professional ventures together.

    My condolences to Grace and other members of his family. He will be missed. Jerry Bailey

  4. Elaine Sadosky on March 15, 2015 at 7:08 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all. I will always remember the fun we had watching the tennis matches. He will be missed.

    Elaine Sadosky

  5. John Immel on March 16, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Grace, Sara, and Karen: So sorry I cannot attend Bill’s service. I am feeling your loss and wish you all God’s sped during this difficult time. Bill was a wonderful fellow. During my few years of knowing him after your move to Lawrence, I enjoyed our many visits about subjects from his business interests and his old oil business years, KU sports, Lawrence Country Club activities, and his connection to my youthful neck of the woods, the area around Colony and Iola. My deepest sympathies.

  6. Mary T. Schnellbacher-Decker on March 16, 2015 at 9:30 am

    My condolences to you and your family. My parents, Otto and Theresa Schnellbacher were very fond of you and Bill. I remember meeting you both many years ago on a ski trip to Vail and we all had dinner at Mintern. May your memories surround you with comfort. Mary T

  7. Bob Moore on March 16, 2015 at 10:40 am


    It was great to get to know Bill the years he was here in Lawrence. I count him as a good friend. He will be missed!

    I know the last few years have been especially tough for you. I hope you can get some peace.

    I’m thinking of you…


  8. Chuck on March 18, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    The passing of Bill is the end of an era for me. I know I will never meet anyone like him again.

    I can count on one hand those that have taught me great things; Bill will always be at the very top of that list for me.

    From my perspective, he took me under his wing when I first met him in 1984; so hard to believe it was that long ago.

    Thank you Bill for everything; I will never forget and always remember. Impossible for me to believe I won’t be able to talk to you again.

    Grace, Karen, Sara – My sincerest sympathies. Thinking of you and God’s peace and goodwill for you.

  9. Rick Porter on March 18, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    My condolences to the Brooks Family at this time. Bill was a very special friend and definitely reintroduced me to the game of tennis and let me join him and his tennis friends on the annual trip to the Vail. After the loss of our mutual friend Joe Bander I would make sure to have an occasional chat with Bill and so enjoyed that great sense of humor… Game / Set / Match Bill!!!! May you all be comforted that Bill left a great example for many of us to follow – Rick Porter

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