Hartwick Citizen Board Picks
John Brooks As Citizen Of Year
ONEONTA – The Hartwick College Citizens Board has named John W. Brooks, retired owner of Brooks’ House of BBQ, as its 2014 Citizen of the Year.
He will be honored during the College’s Community Holiday Gathering on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, at Thornwood, the home of Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich.
“John is a valued and highly respected member of the Hartwick and greater Oneonta community,” said Drugovich. “As demonstrated by his ethical approach to business, his volunteerism in the community, his support of higher education, and his service to our country, John is a wonderful example of selflessness, and a perfect selection for this recognition.”
Brooks is a 1967 graduate of SUNY Delhi, with a degree in hotel and restaurant management.
Brooks served four years in the Air Force, gaining the rank of sergeant, and became the owner of Brooks’ House of BBQ after purchasing it from his parents, Griffin and Frances, in 1975.
His service to the community is exemplary; he is an active member of the Elks Club, the American Legion, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, the BOCES Food Board, and was also an eight-year volunteer with the Conservation Alliance of N.Y. (CANY) Venison Donation Program. Brooks is also the vice president of the SUNY Oneonta’s Foundation Board, as well as an elder at the First Presbyterian Church.
He has been presented with multiple awards, including SUNY Delhi’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2001 Distinguished Business of the Year Award from the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce; and the Sid Levine Award from Fox Hospital in 2002.
In 2005, Brooks and his wife, Joan, sold the restaurant to their son Ryan and his wife, Beth, who became the third generation of Brookses to run the legendary eatery. Over the years, the restaurant has hosted numerous area fundraisers, assisting organizations from the Red Cross to Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care to the United Way, as well as various churches and fire departments.
The Citizens Board of Hartwick College established the Outstanding Citizen Award in 1980 to recognize an individual who, by action, thoughts, and deeds, exemplifies its mission: to promote Hartwick College and to affirm the relationship between the college and community.
“John Brooks has long been a strong business and civic leader, his efforts impacting a wide swath of the Greater Oneonta community,” said Citizens Board Executive Council President Laurie Zimniewicz. “We are thrilled to be able to celebrate his legacy and thank him for all he has done.”
Last year, brothers Vincenzo and Antonio Avanzato, co-owners of Stella Luna Ristorante in Oneonta, were named Citizens of the Year. Other previous winners also include Arnie Drogen (2012); Calvin (Cal) W, Chase (2011); Susan R. Hughson (2010); Madolyn Palmer (2009); Brian and Josie Wright (2008); and Geoff and Linda Smith (2007); and Jim and Karen Elting received the award in 2006.