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Mary Brooks's Geni Profile

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Mary Elizabeth Peavey-Brooks (Thomas)

Birthdate: (95)
Death: 2002 (95)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John W. Thomas, U.S. Senator and Florence Jessie Thomas
Wife of C. Wayland Brooks, U.S. Senator and Art Peavey

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mary Brooks

Mary Elizabeth Thomas Peavey Brooks (November 1, 1907 - February 11, 2002) directed the United States Mint from September 1969 to February 1977.

Brooks was appointed by President Richard M. Nixon, the third woman named to the post. During her administration, she oversaw the initiation of the Eisenhower dollar coin, as well as the redesign of America’s quarter, half dollar and dollar coins for the country’s bicentennial.

She is also credited with saving the original San Francisco Mint building, known as the “Granite Lady,” by transferring it to the Treasury Department. The building, one of the few to survive the Great Earthquake of 1906, had been vacant since 1937 and fallen into disrepair. It is now both a National Historic Landmark and a California Historic Landmark. The city renovated it and located the Museum of the City of San Francisco in the building. Brooks received the “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” Award in 1974 from the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau for her preservation efforts.

During Brooks' tenure as Director of the Mint, she famously led a tour of the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky for members of the United States Congress and the news media on September 23, 1974. This tour was, and to date still is the only time that the inside of the USBD has been seen by members of the public.

In addition, Brooks was awarded the American Numismatic Association’s Medal of Merit in 1988, and was the first woman to receive the Alexander Hamilton Award, the U.S. Treasury Department's highest honor. She was inducted into the University of Idaho Alumni Association’s Hall of Fame in 1970. The university also conferred upon her an honorary doctorate in 1999.

Personal life

Brooks was born to John and Florence Thomas on November 1, 1907, in Colby, Kansas. Her parents moved to Gooding, Idaho, when she was an infant. Her father, John W. Thomas, was appointed a U.S. Senator from Idaho twice (following the deaths of Gooding in 1928 and Borah in 1940).

After graduating from high school in 1925, she attended Mills College in Oakland, California, for two years before receiving her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Idaho in 1929.

Brooks took over her father’s Idaho sheep ranch after his death in 1945 and ran it until her son took it over in 1961. He said "She was just as much at home with rancher as she was with presidents." Her Idaho license plate read "MTN MARY."

The 1941 death of her first husband, Art Peavey, left her a widower. Her second husband, C. Wayland "Curly" Brooks, was a U.S. Senator from Illinois. They were married in 1945; he died a dozen years later in 1957.

She served in the Idaho State Senate from 1963 to 1969, when she was named to head the U.S. Mint. Her son, John Peavey, was appointed to her seat in the state senate and served for all but two of the next 25 years. (He lost the Republican primary in 1976, then won the seat back as a Democrat in 1978.) A failed attempt at lieutenant governor in 1994 marked the end of his political career.

Mary Brooks died in 2002 at age 94 in Twin Falls. She was survived by a son, John Peavey, of Carey, and a daughter, Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Eccles, of McCall, and six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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Mary Brooks's Timeline

Age 95