October 31, 2022

The City of Newberry dedicated the former Wise Street Park, to Israel Brooks Jr. on Friday, October 28. City Council, staff, along with members of the Brooks family joined the community in honoring him. The park will now be named U.S. Marshal Israel Brooks Jr. Park. It is located at 2420 Holloway Street in Newberry.

Mayor Foster Senn welcomed the Brooks family and community and said it was an honor to recognize the outstanding career of a Newberry native.

“He was a family man, and was passionate about his family, his community and his faith,” Senn said of Brooks.

Senn said he believed the park would be inspirational as the community would be reminded that they could contribute, whether it be something great or small in their own way.

“We believe this park will be inspirational to young people, that they will learn about Mr. Brooks, that he grew up in Newberry and went on to be a trailblazer for South Carolina,” he said. “We are excited that history will be remembered and learned here at this park.”

Colonel Chris Williamson, commander of the South Carolina Highway Patrol spoke during the dedication, saying Brooks had been a mentor of his and he credited his success within the SCHP to him.

“He made significant and long-last contributions in many of the agency’s programs by courageously breaking through barriers of resistance,” Williamson said. “Among his many accolades, Major Brooks is widely regarded as a visionary, trailblazing leader who showed dignity in the face of adversity.”

Brooks began his career with the SCHP in 1967 at the age of 23. In 1994, he retired from his service with the SCHP, Williamson said to accept an appointment as a United States Marshal for the District of South Carolina. He held this position for two terms and served with the station until he retired in November 2002.

Lieutenant Catherine Anderson of the City of Clinton Police Department shared her favorite story of Brooks. Anderson was hired by Brooks to be one of the first female officers of the highway patrol.

“Israel saw something in me that I didn’t even see,” Anderson said. “To this day, I still think of him.”

Councilperson Carlton Kinard spoke of legacies and the one that Brooks left behind.

“He continues to leave an impact right here in Newberry County,” Kinard said.

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Collin Shealy thanked the friends of the Wise Street Park group.

“As we were starting this project, they were very instrumental in helping to get the ball rolling, helping to bring feedback from the community and give us an idea of what the important park amenities were that we wanted to add and improve,” Shealy said.

Upgrades to the park have included a new picnic shelter, new restrooms, a quarter-mile walking trail around the park, basketball court renovations, parking lot updates to include trail connectivity and new playground equipment.

Upcoming, Shealy said the park will see additions to include a community garden, ballfield benches/bleachers and soccer goals.

“We’re very excited to be able to do this renovation and we look forward to the park being full for years to come,” he said.

Brooks’ wife, Barbara spoke on behalf of their family.

“On behalf of the Brooks family, I want to thank all of you for this moving tribute to my late husband’s life and legacy,” she said.

Barbara said that Newberry was home to her and her family.

“My husband grew up in this community. He delivered newspapers in the morning, and then drove the school bus when he was in high school. He worked at Newberry College on the weekends,” she said.

Barbara said she and her husband were both from Newberry and attended school together from the first grade until high school graduation.

“Three of our four children were born in Newberry and we lived in Newberry for a few years before he became a state trooper,” she said. “Our families on both sides continue to live and prosper in Newberry.”

Barbara quoted a speech her husband gave in 1994 which said, “Fellow Newberrians, I shall never deceive you. You may be assured that I will forever hold in high esteem the pride of our city. Where I have been or hope to go, Newberry will still be home. I am thankful to have grown up here.”

She said she hoped that the park would be a place of enjoyment, peace and fellowship and a place to teach and strengthen community values.

Senn said The Newberry Museum previously hosted an exhibit about Brooks in 2021 and is currently designing two historical displays on his life that will be added to the park in 2023.

 Mayor Senn welcomes the community to the park dedication. 

 Members of the Brooks family cut the ribbon at the park's dedication.

 Ms. Brooks pictured with members of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. 

 Ms. Brooks with members of City Council.