Philip and Barbara Brooks posing at Ohio Northern University when they were students.

An Ohio Northern University legacy family has created a scholarship fund for students to help them pursue their career dreams. The Brooks Family Endowed Scholarship was established by Barbara Brooks, BSED ‘67 in loving memory of her husband, the late Philip Brooks, BSCE ‘65, and in honor of their daughters, Dawn Brooks, BS ‘93, and Heather Brooks, BS ‘98.
Scholarships will go to students deemed worthy of financial assistance. Preference will be given to those who currently reside in or are a resident of Sandusky County, Ohio and who are enrolled in education, environmental sciences, chemistry or engineering programs — areas of study in which the Brookses and their daughters received their degrees.
The Brooks Family Endowed Scholarship is part of the Forward Together campaign, which seeks to build a bright future for ONU by raising $100 million for student scholarships, teaching and learning excellence, facilities, and the Northern Fund.
Barbara and Philip, of Fremont, Ohio, became H.S. Lehr Society members after years of University support. They have now established three ONU scholarships, including the Ridenour Family Scholarship in honor of Barbara’s side of the family, and the Florence Brooks Memorial Scholarship in memory of Philip’s mother, Florence A. Brooks, BS ‘57.
Philip “used his engineering degree from Northern for all aspects of his career,” said Barbara. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War, worked for the Air National Guard, and after 20 years retired as Ohio National Guard base commander in Port Clinton, Ohio. “He hit the pinnacle of what he wanted to do,” she said.
Barbara is a retired teacher and tutor. Born in Lima, Ohio, she lived in Virginia when she decided to enroll at ONU. Her grandparents still lived in Lima, making it possible for her to visit them often, she said. Barbara and Philip became a couple when she asked him to be her date for her Alpha Xi sorority function. Barbara graduated two semesters early to get married. Years later, when it was time for their daughters to choose a college, “they did look around at other schools but we all knew the writing was on the wall,” she said.
Florence Brooks was initially interested in studying chemistry at Ohio Northern, Barbara said, but switched to education, a more traditional pursuit that came with more job prospects during the post-World War II era.
ONU has now become a three-generation, extended family tradition for them. Philip’s mother and sister, Barbara’s sister, Barb and Phil's two daughters and son-in-law, and two nephews and a niece are all ONU grads.
Barbara and Phil’s daughters are living fulfilling lives, thanks in part to their ONU education. Dawn went on to earn her Ph.D. in organic chemistry and now serves as global development leader for Eli Lilli and Company’s Alzheimer’s Disease research department in Indianapolis, Indiana. Heather earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology/environmental studies with distinction at ONU, and a Master of Science in environmental science. She married Nathan Baughman, BS ‘98. The couple travels throughout the U.S. and Europe for his work as a software engineer.
Barbara’s father, Paul Ridenour, also attended ONU. From Lima, Ohio, he had a 30-year career as a U.S. Air Force pilot and scientist. He began his college studies at ONU in the 1940's, later earning a Bachelor of Science in physics from OSU and a Master of Science from the Air Force Institute of Technology. With his wife Juanita, also from Lima, they instilled strong Christian beliefs in Barbara and their two other children, Alan and Nancy, BS ‘74.
“We all appreciated the small size of Northern,” its nurturing atmosphere and excellent academic offerings, Barbara said. “The degrees we all obtained from ONU were foundational for whatever careers we’ve gone into.” She hopes the Brooks Family Endowed Scholarship helps to set up current and future ONU students for success.