Family values

The Winnipeg Foundation

Bob and Betty Brooke
Bob and Betty Brooke share a dance in 2009.

Bob and Betty Brooke lived by their values: honesty, integrity, acceptance and education. Their fund is ensuring these values will continue to influence their family – and community – forever.

Bob and Betty married in 1941 and spent 70 years together. “Their relationship is truly inspirational. Their love for each other never wavered. They expressed their love in many ways, often showing acts of appreciation and kindness to each other,” says Glenda Dean, the Brookes’ daughter.

Born in Winnipeg in 1914, Robert “Bob” Brooke experienced some difficulties growing up, but a friend’s father, who was a Canon in the Anglican Church, changed his trajectory. “Canon Findlay took him under his wing and really guided him. He was a troubled kid,” explains Ms. Dean.

The youngest of seven, Alice Elizabeth “Betty” Mensforth was born in Winnipeg in 1918.

The couple had three children: Warren, Ralph and Glenda. They raised their family on Spruce Street in the West End and regularly took family camping trips. They worked hard to instill strong values in their children. It worked: before retiring, Warren Brooke was Executive Director of Family Service in London, Ont. and Ms. Dean was Executive Director of Alpha House in Winnipeg.

Mr. Brooke was a salesman for Westinghouse. When Glenda started school, Mrs. Brooke went back to work at Eaton’s, primarily so the couple could travel the world. And they travelled extensively, visiting England, Switzerland, Australia, the Mediterranean, Haiti, and many other countries, and taking numerous cruises. Travelling expanded the couple’s world view.

“I think they saw beyond themselves, they saw the bigger picture, they saw how we are all connected; as much as we are different, we are all the same. So I think that just added to their view of diversity.”

As they neared the end of their lives, the Brookes decided they wanted to permanently support the causes they cared about. After meeting with Foundation staff, they started a Field of Interest Fund.

“My dad was very impressed and really trusted that The Winnipeg Foundation would be good stewards for this money. They set up the Brooke Family Fund, which started out with a very small amount of money, and the focus was on youth and education and the church.”

It’s opened our eyes in terms of what one can do. And I think that’s pretty incredible.

Glenda Dean
Bob and Betty Brooke's daughter

After Mr. and Mrs. Brooke passed away in 2011 and 2015 respectively, an estate gift further supported the fund. At the times of their passing, the family chose to direct memorial gifts to the fund as a way to remember Bob and Betty. And members of the Brooke/Dean family, including the couple’s grandchildren, make gifts to the fund as a way to both remember Mr. and Mrs. Brooke, and to give back to their community.

“I think we’re all equally proud of [the Brooke Family Fund]. I think we’re really proud of what [my parents] created, in knowing that we’re part of that. It’s opened our eyes in terms of what one can do. And I think that’s pretty incredible.”

The Brooke Family Fund shows everyone can make a difference, no matter what their means.

“Philanthropy sometimes seems like such a big thing, but really it’s something everyone can do. My parents were regular, working-class people. They worked hard, supported their family and lived modestly. And they wanted to leave something that reflected how they lived their life.”

Do you want to support an area you’re passionate about? Learn more about Field of Interest Funds on our Create Your Own Fund page.

This story is featured in the Fall 2016 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.