William Brooks III
Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013 5:00 am
William "Chili Bill" Thomas Brooks, 82, died Feb. 16, 2013, at the 26 Bar Ranch in Eagar. He was born in Phoenix, where he met his wife Martha. He then did a hitch in the U.S. Air Force, during which he had his three children and got to jump from a burning B29 over Oklahoma.
Bill was an actor, a pilot who built his own jet engines and flew a Russian MiG fighter jet in a movie, author of several cookbooks and short stories, inventor, and entrepreneur that operated diverse businesses such as a small airline and a restaurant. He was also heavily involved in the American judo scene. He spent time in Japan and entertained many of the top masters from Japan in his home. He was a huge fan of John Wayne, had a collection of his movie memorabilia and spent his last years on Wayne's 26 Bar Ranch. He produced several low-budget westerns and had a locally-popular cooking show, "Chili Bill's" Kitchen.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife Martha Lou.
He is survived by his three children: Paige Roush of Redlands, Calif.; Gail Vanderslik of Mariposa, Calif.; William Thomas Brooks IV of Goodyear; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was a true renaissance man and will be missed.
Burnham Mortuary of Eagar handled arrangements.
It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of our dear friend, "Chili Bill" Brooks, 82 years old. He was such an amazing man! After flying in the Air Force, he opened a successful restaurant and also began his own airline. He flew for William Randolph Hearst, which is how he met The Duke, when he flew John Wayne up to visit Hearst Castle. He eventually became Wayne's personal pilot and began a long friendship. He also somehow squeezed in a career at NASA, teaching there in New Mexico.
But he really loved life at 26 Bar Ranch, choosing to spend his golden years there.
We struck up a friendship over our mutual admiration of The Duke & 26 Bar Ranch, and we created this FB group. I finally had the privilege of meeting Chili Bill in person last year and he gave me the grand tour of his John Wayne museum. As you know, he had an unending array of stories to share... I dreaded the day, this day, that his stories would cease.
With the loss of Chili Bill, ends an iconic era.
You will be greatly missed, but you and your stories will live on in our hearts and minds.
Rest In Peace, Chili Bill, Mi Amigo.