Feb. 6, 1943 – June 19, 2018
Vivian Morgan Brooke was born on February 6th, 1943 to Arthur and Zada Morgan in New York City, NY and raised in Clearwater, FL. with her sister, Miriam Morgan. On June 19th, our wife, mother, sister and grandmother (Daisy) passed away peacefully at her home in Missoula, with her family at her side.
Vivian graduated from Clearwater High School in the class of 1961. During her high school summers Vivian worked for her Uncle Hugh and Aunt Margaret Black, at St. Mary Resort, near Glacier National Park. It was there that she fell in love with Montana and decided to attend Carroll College. Vivian received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Carroll. In 1965 Vivian met Joe Brooke on the highway between Drummond and Garrison on a blind date facilitated by their dear, lifelong friends Rob and Johanna Hanson. They were married October 15th, 1966 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ronan. A celebration on the ranch with a bathtub full of champagne kicked off their 52 years of adventures. Four children followed over the next years - Patricia Margaret (Seattle), Monica Marie (Missoula), Susan Jane (Arroyo Grande, CA), and Joseph Morgan (Missoula).
Always the adventurer, Vivian led the family on many excursions, from loading up the station wagon for a ski trip to Big Sky where she would lead the charge down her favorite run, Elk Park Ridge, to showing the family the beauty of one of her favorite places, Glacier National Park. While Vivian was raising a family, she was also committed to causes that were close to her heart including becoming the President of the League of Women Voters and the first woman President of the Western Montana Diocesan Catholic Council.
In 1988 Vivian won a seat in the Montana House of Representatives. She served three terms in the House and in 1994 was elected to the state Senate. Vivian was a force to be reckoned with in Helena. She took on the establishment and tough issues, particularly issues related to women and gay rights. Vivian introduced and was the primary bill sponsor, to decrimalize consensual sexual relations between persons of the same sex (in 2013 the legislature finally declared that homosexuality was no longer a crime and Vivian was acknowledged as a champion of this effort and invited by the Governor to the bill signing). She was an active voice and vote against de-regulation, in favor of consumer rights. One of the accomplishments that Vivian was most proud of during her time in the legislature was to get a women’s prison built in Billings. This is the only women’s prison in Montana.
Vivian was the recipient of many awards over her years of service. One that she was most proud of was the 1993 Susan B. Anthony Award for “outstanding legislative leadership on behalf of reproductive rights, women and families, the rights of lesbians and gay men” by the Montana Women’s Lobby. Vivian not only fought these issues in Montana, but also throughout the world. In 1994, she represented Catholics for a Free Choice at the U.N. International Conference on Population and Development and in 1995, she was a representative to the U.N. 4thWorld Conference on Women held in Beijing.
Retirement from the legislature gave Vivian more time to enjoy her favorite places Glacier Park, Big Sky and Flathead Lake. She also worked tirelessly contributing to various projects in the community, including fund raising to build the Missoula Art Museum and Blue Mountain Women’s Clinic. She loved to go on long hikes, travel with friends and family, keep up with her many friends and enjoy her grandkids. Vivian applied her competitive spirit to life with a determination to win on the golf course, playing cards, and growing award-winning roses. In 2016 Joe and Viv celebrated their 50 years of marriage at Flathead Lake with a small group of friends and family.
Vivian leaves behind her love, Joe Brooke, children Patricia, Monica (Kevin Scott), Susan (Aaron Thompson), Morgan (Joy Brooke) and grandchildren Brooke (Alex Blackler), Biko, Tony, Maguire, and Penelope, great granddaughter Mylah, sister Miriam Morgan, and many friends from high school, college, politics, book club, hiking, and the Spirit of Peace community that provided great sustenance over many years.
Without the loving care of Monica over the past year we would have all been lost. We are forever indebted. We also thank Dr. Mike Caldwell, the hospice workers and many close friends that shepherded Vivian through her final chapter.
Vivian was always a detailed storyteller and one of her last wishes was to have a “good group of people saying nice things about me.” A wake will be held Friday, June 22ndat Spirit of Peace, 506 Toole Ave in Missoula. On Saturday, June 23rd, a service will be held at 11:00am at The Wilma in Missoula with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to one of Vivian’s favorite causes: Blue Mountain Women’s Clinic, Missoula Art Museum or the Montana ACLU.