Arthur Zervas Brooks, born April 14, 1945 in Albany, New York, passed away November 13, 2018 in Port Charlotte, at Tidewell Hospice. He is survived by his wife, artist Julie Noel, stepson Leif Marten, daughter-in-law Becky, beloved daughter Chance Hammond and her fiancé, Patrick Loring as well as his precious grandchildren Saxon, Kai, Peyton, Terrence, and sister Victoria (John) Duers. He will also be forever remembered by many extended family and friends of Boca Grande.
Artie, as he has been known for many years, was a free spirit who moved to Boca Grande in 1979 from Manomet, Massachusetts with his family. They bought a little house on Tarpon Street and settled into life on the island.
Initially he went to work for Jay Spurgeon at Loons on a Limb, and at one point even worked as a janitor at Whidden’s Marina. He served as a butler for the Houghton family, then drove the airport run at Island Limousine for Jackie Furtado. He worked often with Harold Bowe.
Artie was a hardworking man who answered his phone with a friendly, “You got him” and almost always ended with “No problem.” Willing to do any job to provide for his family, Artie could be counted on, and became quite well known for odd jobs around the island. Whether you needed an iguana removed from your rafters or dead fish pulled out of the canal – Artie was the guy to call.
In the mid 1980’s Artie started Brooks Hauling and Delivery with a single big green truck. “Trash is my life” he touted. Known as the island dumpster diver, Artie truly believed that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and was proud to proclaim it! He grew the business over the years to one with more than forty employees. He often hired folks that others wouldn’t and helped many people get a start on the island. Boca Grande had been good to Artie and he loved to pay it forward.
His daughter Chance said, “The most amazing thing about growing up with him was that he was always up for an adventure.” They would take off on road trips where Artie enjoyed showing Chance an authentic experience. For example, they once stayed in the Keys for a week at the Tilton Hilton, along side the street performers. “There were chicken feathers on the floor and no screens on the windows,” Chance said. But that was Artie, quirky and fun, always full of surprises. “He worked hard all his life to give us everything he could give us.”
However, he wasn’t all work. Artie loved to play guitar and had a gift for music. In 1965 his band, The Vibratos, produced the original album, Tricycle. Many islanders remember the years he entertained and played with the Gulf Stream Bandits. They sang hits like “House of the Rising Sun” and original music such as the song he wrote for his daughter, “Young Sweet Melinda.”
Over the years Artie Brooks has worn many hats, but the hats he loved most were that of father and grandfather. We’re sad to say goodbye to yet another unique and beloved island character. Thank you Artie for taking out the trash, and thank you most of all for the memories we treasure.
*In the spirit in which he lived, Artie has donated his body to science. The family is planning a quiet memorial service at a later date. In honor of Artie Brooks, family and friends are simply asked to think of him – and pay it forward.