Susan Marie Brooks

Susan Marie Brooks

Dr. Suz Brooks spent her life working with and caring for children and animals, and she often said how blessed she was by that passion. She died on Monday, April 10, 2017, at Hancock Hall in Danbury, Connecticut. She was 68.

Formerly a resident of Altamont, she was born on Feb. 5, 1949 to Edgar P. and Ann M. Brooks who lived on  Main Street. She graduated from Guilderland Central High School in 1967, attended Corning Community College, obtained her bachelor of science from the State University of New York Empire State College, her master of education degree in counseling psychology from Boston University, and her doctor of psychology degree from Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Boston.

She was part of a peace and research group while living in Cambridge and part of a well-established cooperative living arrangement for many years. During this time, she also participated in anti-nuclear work.

Trained as an animal behaviorist,  she integrated this with livestock management and child psychology at Green Chimneys Children’s Services in New York State. During her 13 years as the farm psychologist,  Dr. Brooks also taught as an adjunct professor at Mercy College for 10 years. Here she trained professionals to integrate animals into their clinical practices for the  betterment of both children and animals.

While at Green Chimneys Farm, Dr. Brooks hired and trained interns from all over the world,  traveling throughout the United States and internationally. During this time, she published on the topic of animal-assisted therapy and equine-facilitated psychotherapy.

Dr. Brooks was a board member in the early days of NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association)/EFMHA (Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association), now PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship), an organization supporting, training, and overseeing best practices in equine work with people. Here she helped to develop a new career track for equine specialists.

In the early winter of 2007, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 multiple myeloma cancer. “During this part of her journey, Suz began to volunteer at Ann’s Place, a cancer support agency in Danbury,” her family wrote in a tribute. “She quickly became an integral member of the team — she started and facilitated ‘Living Well with Incurable or Stage 4 Cancer,’ a monthly gathering that explores how to live fully despite the ups and downs of this disease.”

She began a monthly singing group, helped with training a new group of facilitators, envisioned and helped bring about speaking engagements by both a world-renowned author and an oncology physician/researcher at Ann’s Place. She also worked with staff to provide spirituality retreats, a poetry workshop, and various other events.

“As service was very important to her, giving back for all the blessings she had received was a priority,” her family wrote. “She had a long-standing spiritual practice in a meditation format that sustained her through many of life’s trials.”

Dr. Brooks is survived by her sister, Kathleen Brooks Dail of Virginia, her nieces and nephews, and many dear and close friends and associates.

“Suz will be remembered for her wonderful sense of humor and resounding laugh,” her family wrote. “Her legacy lives on in her service to others and in the hearts and minds of those who loved her.”

A Celebration of Suz’s Life will be held at Ann’s Place in Danbury, Connecticut on June 24 at 2 p.m.

Memorial contributions be made to Ann’s Place, 80 Saw Mill Road, Danbury, CT 06810.

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