By: Greg Russell
Emalie Appleton Brooks was often referred to as “the Godfather” by her many University
of Memphis friends because she was able to “take care of every-body and everything
with apparent ease and grace.”
“She was the first to check on someone who was sick, or drive someone to the doctor,”
said Cathy Dice, an instructor of English at the U of M. “The first to take food to
a friend or church member who had lost a loved one.”
Now, Dice and others are taking care of Brooks’ legacy by establishing the Emalie
Appleton Brooks Scholarship. Brooks, an alumna and former English instructor at the
U of M, passed away in 2006.
“Emalie was an amazing individual — she seemed to know something about every topic
under the sun,” said Dice. “When we are screening applicants for the scholarship,
one of the main qualities we look for is Emalie’s passion for learning and for soaking
up as much life as the world has to offer.”
According to Brooks’ brother, Tom Appleton, Emalie loved exploring — she often traveled
to Europe to absorb the pages of literary ink that were penned by the masters that
she held so dear. Among her favorite places were Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where
she saw several Shakespearean plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company; the
Lake district, where she visited the home and grave of her favorite Romantic, William
Wordsworth; and Florence, Italy, where she toured the apartment of Elizabeth Barrett
Dice said Brooks carried this passion for learning into the classroom.
“She saw teaching not simply as a job, but as part of her identity,” said Dice. “Her
dedication to her student was obvious. She believed in challenging them and making
sure that they lived up to their responsibilities, but she genuinely wanted them to
succeed and was constantly looking for new topics to discuss and new strategies to
use in the classroom.”
Becky Argall, assistant professor and director of lower division programs in English,
said the scholar-ship was created in Spring 2007 and that it specifies the award go
to a junior or senior undergraduate student who is majoring in English and who has
a mini-mum GPA of 3.0.
The scholarship was awarded for the first time during the 2007-08 academic year and
went to Allie Claire Mariano. Rebekah Hope Guess is this year’s recipient.
Tom Appleton said that his sister first taught in the public school system in Memphis
after receiving an undergraduate degree at Rhodes. He said she pursued her love of
the “Romantic poets, Shakespeare and the 19th century English novel” at the U of M,
where she received a master of arts in 1970. In the late 1980s, she began teaching
at the University.
“She was regarded as a superior classroom instructor and mentor,” said Tom, who often
traveled with Emalie and her husband, William Brooks, to Europe.
Said Dice, “What I remember most about Emalie is her extraordinary kindness and warmth.
She had a wicked sense of humor and loved to make people laugh.”