HUDSON — Arthur Brooks of Hudson will celebrate his 100th birthday alongside family and friends Sunday.
“I have a happily married life, children, I was happy in business,” he said is his secret for a long life. “I never thought much about longevity, the decades passed very quickly.”
The Elmira native moved to Hudson in the late 1940s to work at his father-in-law’s manufacturing firm, Textile By-Products, later known as Lorbrook Corp. at 730 State St.
“Hudson was an industrial town and was entirely different than it is today,” he said. “It’s changed tremendously. Now there are restaurants, art galleries and antique stores and loads of New Yorkers, many of whom established homes here.”
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics, Brooks went to work at his father’s department store for several years until deciding to enlist in the Army.
He began his military career at Fort Dix near Trenton, New Jersey before he was shipped off to Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
“We trained on World War I artillery, which was horse drawn,” Brooks said. “When I heard a lieutenant say they valued the horses more than the men, I was determined to get out.”
Brooks transferred to the Ordnance Corps, which supplied and maintained Army combat units with weapons and ammunition. He was then stationed at Fort Gordon, northeast of Atlanta, Georgia.
“I was determined to become an officer, so in 1942 I did a 90-day test that largely determined whether you’d be a good leader or not,” he said. “Luckily, they thought I was and I was very happy.”
On May 22, 1942, Brooks became a 2nd lieutenant. He was stationed in Texas, Louisiana, Virginia and Manitoba, Canada before he was sent to Europe in November 1943.
When he arrived in Liverpool, England in January 1944, he and the troops traveled to the western coast of Wales where Brooks recalled German planes flying over.
“In late July 1944, we saw a lot of our B-17s being shot down by the Germans and we didn’t trap enough of the German Army at the time,” he said. “We went on through France, Belgium and Holland.”
Brooks found himself in Paris two days after the city was liberated in August 1944 during World War II.
“The French were beside themselves with happiness,” he said. “It was wild and as an American officer I was treated to everything.”
At the end of the war, Brooks was a company commander in Germany.
“We were all expected to go to Japan, but the atomic bomb saved the invasion of Japan, which would have cost a number of lives of Japanese and our soldiers,” he said. “I took a ship back home and it felt great to be out of the war.”
Brooks returned to work at his father’s department store and in January 1946, his sister introduced him to his future wife, Judy.
“I fell in love,” he said.
The two were married on July 14, 1946 at the Sherry-Netherland hotel in Manhattan.
Two years later, Judy’s father asked Brooks to come to work for him at Textile By-Products in Hudson.
“I did, despite the reluctance of my mother to leave the family business,” he said. “I enjoyed working with Judy’s father.”
The factory, where Brooks worked until he retired, manufactured felt primarily for General Motors as well as firewall insulators, felt for trunk liners, medical felt and vinyl before closing in 1989.
The couple has three daughters — one who graduated from Hudson City School District and two from private school.
Their daughter, Lori, said having parents who have been married for 71 years has taught her a few things about relationships.
“The love they have for each other has been the biggest thing,” she said. “Also their willingness to compromise, enjoy each other and have a sense of humor.”
Lori added: “It’s pretty extraordinary” to watch her father turn 100-years-old.
Judy, who is 98, will turn 100 in February 2019.
“The greatest joy is that they’re together,” Lori said. “I hope they stay healthy and be together, that’s the most important thing.”