December 6, 1937-June 12, 2023
We honor the life and accomplishments of a truly remarkable man, Brooks Sibley. He was the best father and grandfather anyone could ask for. When one of his sons found his significant other, he gained a daughter and later a granddaughter. Whether it was going to every little league game or watching his children/granddaughter at their school events, he was always there for his loved ones. Brooks loved them greatly, and always shared how blessed he was to have them in his life. He made sure to always take time out of his busy schedule to spend with his friends/family and loved to share the experience of fishing with them.
Teaching and mentoring were also a passion of his. Before his children were born, he was a big brother at the Boys and Girls club and made deep bonds that turned into lifelong relationships. Brooks’ relationship with his little brother, Glenn Hamanaka, began in the 1980s. Their fishing expeditions served as the backdrop for transferring knowledge and passion, with Brooks teaching Glenn the intricacies of ocean navigation and fishing. Their shared experiences only deepened their bond and love for the sea. After teaching forestry at HSU for over 30 years, his impact on the lives of his many students is hard to measure. Taking trips to different states, his family would often run into one of his students who would be so excited to see him and tell him how he had made a difference in their lives.
His faith was of upmost importance to him. He participated in many events at Arcata First Baptist and went to church every Sunday. During his many years going there, he made many friendships and supported and loved the church and the people who were a part of it. He would spend time volunteering at the church when he could, and tending to the landscape at the church grounds was something he took great joy in doing.
It is difficult to put into words what fishing meant to him. He kept photos of himself fishing off the piers of San Francisco seventy-five years ago. It was something that he loved to share with everyone and take them out in his boats to enjoy the experience. Whether it was fishing off the piers with his children or granddaughter, or taking people out to fish in Humboldt Bay, he truly loved every minute of it. Later in life when he no longer had his boat, he would go out on charter boats. Brooks had a profound respect for the skippers of the boats and really enjoyed being a part of that community. He developed a close friendship with local charter captain Phil Glenn, and they enjoyed many fishing adventures.
Brooks was born and raised in San Francisco, being the only child of Ralph and May Brooks Sibley. (26th and Balboa!). His father, Ralph, served in A.E.F. during WWI in France. He was a heavy machine repairman for airplanes, jeeps, trucks, tanks, etc. His mother grew up in Quebec, Canada and attended McGill University for a five-year degree in health education. As a young boy, Brooks had the Golden Gate Park as his playground and rode his bike through the dunes of Ocean Beach. He attended local schools and volunteered for many years as a school crossing guard. He also worked through his Boy Scout badges. Brooks’ Uncle Layton taught him how to fish the piers of San Francisco, the bay, and local lakes. In 1956, Brooks graduated from George Washington High School as valedictorian. He was two years behind Doug Dixon who became his next-door neighbor in Sunnybrae for over 35 years.
To pay for his college career, Brooks worked summers at the Eel River CCC. Experiencing the forest combined with fishing, the rivers of Humboldt opened two lifetime passions – forestry and fishing. He soon transferred to HSU from the junior college in San Francisco. Brooks graduated from HSU in the first forestry class, being part of the team who put together The Forestry Club.
After HSU, Brooks went to work for a few years at the USFS out of Dunsmuir. Later, he returned to school for his master’s degree through Oregon State University. Brooks was then hired as an associate professor in the Natural Resources College at HSU. Around 1970, he took an academic sabbatical to procure a PhD at Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Brooks loved teaching and working with students on their career path as a freshman advisor. Whether in the field or in the lab testing fuels on his custom “burn” table, he delighted in sharing his expertise. A quote hung in his office for decades surmised his philosophy, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.”
He started his passion of fishing at an early age. From the waterways of San Francisco up the west coast to Neah Bay, Washington, he casted his line or lowered his downrigger. Many friends and family members were able to share his joy over the seventy-plus years he fished. He was the companion of two dogs and two cats and loved each one. Over his lifetime he had the privilege to take care of and live his life with many different pets. He had a fondness in his heart for the local animal shelters and the work anyone does to benefit animals in need.
An enduring bond of understanding and shared history linked him with his former wife, Anita. She showed unwavering support and compassion during his final days. Equally pivotal was his daughter-in-law- Van, who epitomized love and care. She brought Brooks home and diligently worked to ensure his comfort, becoming a bedrock of support for the family during the most difficult time.
At Brooks’ request, his great friends Phil Glenn, Tom Throssel, and Glenn Hamanaka were with his immediate family and spread his ashes just west of Buhne Point via the Blue Fin. Brooks is survived by his sons Edward and Garrett (Van) and his granddaughter Katie. He will be missed by his many friends in Humboldt County and anywhere else they may be.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Brooks Sibley’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.