Luella Mae Brooks, 84, passed into the arms of her savior in the presence of family on November 10th, 2021.

Luella was born January 14th, 1937 to Levi and Opal Ross in Mountain View, MO. Her early years were spent in Western Nebraska, living on the prairie and learning in a one room schoolhouse. At the age of six she survived polio, re-learning how to walk with the help of her mother, Opal.

Her family later returned to Mountain View, where she graduated high school in 1955, marrying her sweetheart, Kenneth Neal Brooks, on August 17th, 1956. They raised three children there, while Luella also worked as a pharmacist’s assistant.

In 1974 they moved to Gallatin, MO, where Luella began to babysit and discovered a desire to foster children. She and Neal immediately began to home and love children who needed it, bringing two of their foster children with them when they moved to Columbia, MO, in 1976.

Luella completed one year at Columbia College while Neal worked as a barber at the Big Four Barber Shop. She also came to be known for her adeptness at caring for children with special needs, diligently working with physical and occupational therapy to provide them with the best advantages she could give. She and Neal continued to care for children well into their seventies, with an estimated 100 children finding a home with them, however temporarily. She also taught pre-adoptive parents how to care for their newborns for 30 days until ready for adoption, helping them to bond with their baby while still in her care. Meanwhile, Luella and Neal also welcomed three children into their own family through adoption, opening her home eventually to many grandchildren as well. Her house was known for its welcome, sounds of children, and the sound of Luella singing her favorite hymns.

Luella and others throughout the state formed the Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association around 1980, to support and advise Missouri foster parents. Luella served as Secretary for several years.

Luella was a two-time survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, demonstrating the strength that carried her for her entire life. Anyone who knew her would call her tough and kind at the same time. She always had a big greeting for everyone, a quick laugh, and loved to open her home and her kitchen to all. She and Neal were longtime members of Memorial Baptist Church of Columbia, and her faith was evident in her life and in her endurance. “One day at a time” was a common phrase heard from her lips.

Luella is predeceased by her parents, her brothers Dale Ross and Wayne Ross, and her son-in-law Eric Summers. She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Neal Brooks, her children, Ken Brooks (Allyson), Steven Brooks (Becky), Judy Summers, Teri Brooks (Clark), Marcus Brooks, and Sarah Brooks. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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