Brenda (mom) was born Brenda Mae Morgan on February 6, 1939 in Farmington New Mexico to Margaret M. and Wilbur E. Morgan Sr. She was the second of three children, sister to Katherine and Wilbur E. Jr. (Sonny).
Mom grew up in the Window Rock Arizona area of the Navajo Reservation. There she spent her childhood and teen years living, playing, making future life long friends and riding horses. She had her own horse “Paint” and was touted as excellent horse rider. Mom also did rodeo barrel racing and in 1953 was chosen as the Lion’s Club Rodeo Queen. Mom attended schools in the Gallup-Window Rock area. In her high school years she played high school basketball and was most noted for her “hook shot”. She has a lot of basketball trophies from that time period. Mom graduated from Gallup High School in 1957.
Mom joined the Navy after high school and was Honorably Discharged in 1958. When mom returned to Window Rock she worked as a secretary for Indian Public Health and later as a secretary for the Medical Officer in Charge at the Gallup New Mexico Indian Hospital. Mom later married and had two sons.
In 1966, with inspiration from a close friend about government jobs in San Diego California, mom left the Gallup/Window Rock area with her two sons and started a new life in San Diego. There, she started working for the Navy at what was then the Navy Medical Neuropsychiatric Research Unit and remained through its evolution to what is now the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC). There,she held the positions of Secretary to the Commanding Officer and in her final years, Command Historian. She supported over 21 commanding officers and numerous researchers over her years there, providing continuity, guidance and support During her 58 year tenure she received numerous awards including her 50 and 55 year Service Awards and most notably, the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Award in 2013.
While in San Diego, mom flourished. She made new lifelong friends and remarried for seven years in the 70’s. During her early years in San Diego, mom was an amateur league bowler and won may trophies for that. She was active in afterwork events, family picnics and gatherings and weekend camping outings and our Scouting activities and events. Mom would travel between San Diego and Window Rock to visit with her mom and see friends. In mom’s later years she still worked but spent more time traveling, working on her house, spending time with her sons and their families, her sister and her family, and maintaining close contact with local and distant cousins and friends.
Mom was proud of her Navajo/Oneida heritage. She enjoyed attending powwows in San Diego and Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico, Hawaii and Montana, and for a time she attended the annual Native American Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque New Mexico and even traveled as far as Green Bay Wisconsin to attend the Oneida powwows. She often accepted opportunities to speak about her heritage at work and public events, always happy to talk and answer any questions.
Mom was never one to shy away from anything. She met each of life’s challenges head on with a fierce determination and always stood up for what she believed in. In 2007 mom was diagnosed with colon cancer, which would be her greatest and final challenge and would ultimately take her from us. Mom passed away on March 4, 2017 in San Diego, CA. in the company of her sons Frank and Ric, sister Katherine, daughter-in-law Susan, granddaughter Melinda, grandson Jacob and niece Karen.
To sum up mom’s life, she was always young at heart, witty, adventurous, courageous, loving, supportive, helpful and generous with her time to family and friends. She was never one to hold back and always told it like it was. She was a great friend to anyone who would give her the opportunity and never shy about striking up a conversation with anyone. Whether she knew them or not. Mom loved her life, her family and her friends. She will be greatly missed.
Brenda is survived by her sons Frank Crooks and Ric Morgan of San Diego, her sister Kathy of San Diego, and three grandchildren, Melinda, Jolie and Jacob. Preceded in death by her parents Margaret M. and Wilbur E. Morgan, and her brother Wilbur E. Morgan Jr.
Memorial service for Brenda M. (Morgan) Crooks will be held on Saturday March 25 at 1:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 2111 Camino Del Rio S., San Diego, CA.