Pinned In Memory of Chili Bill

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    There are 39 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Kevin.

    • In Memory of Chili Bill

      It is with sadness that I report the passing of William T Brooks III, known to most of us here on the JWMB as "Chili Bill", on February 16, 2013. It appears that he died at the 26 Bar Ranch. The obituary I found was woefully small, considering the very rich life Bill led.

      I had a report in March of his death, but have had trouble confirming it, and didn't want to announce it here without that confirmation.

      I had tried calling Bill in early March, just to check in, and his number was disconnected, which was my first clue that something must have happened. Then I saw a note on a FB friend's wall, a woman from Germany who had visited Bill at the 26 Bar Ranch. She had heard the news from a grandson, but other than the fact that Bill had died, there were no other details. Following that, the first thing I did was to search the internet for an obituary. I searched high and low and could find nothing, which was very surprising.

      My very first contact with Bill, back in 2004, was through his son. I was unable to make that connection again (couldn't find a phone number, though I called more than one Brooks in the Phoenix area in an attempt to get information). I was unsuccessful in every direction, and again, wanted some confirmation before sharing here.

      Recently, I got a PM from one of our members here, asking about Chili Bill. I told him what little I knew, but decided to try another search for an obituary, which I did find (linked above). That obit wasn't posted until the end of April, and I have to admit being pretty busy in the interim between March and now, and I haven't been dogging the Internet every day looking for it. According to the other member, with whom I was exchanging PMs, there was also an 'announcement' on the "John Wayne & His 26 Bar Hereford Ranch in Eagar AZ" Facebook page on May 17th. In March, when I look on any FB pages associated with Chili Bill, all I could find were his most 'recent' posts from January, and nothing more. Of course, thinking he had passed, I didn't go back to those pages again. Thanks to our astute member for pointing that out.

      So . . . now that I have those scanty details out of the way, I'd like to share a little of Bill's history here on the JWMB.

      1491765_682829765081868_504700282_n.jpgBack in 2004, there was a post on our message board, in the Trading Post, from a guy named William T Brooks, wanting to sell a pistol and gun belt that had belonged to John Wayne. I found a phone number for someone by that name in Arizona, and called. It turned out Bill's son (William T Brooks IV) had made the post for his dad. I got Chili Bill's phone number, to find out more about the pistol and gun belt. I learned he had served as an extra in several movies in the 40's, including The Angel and the Badman! Bill had some great stories to tell about John Wayne, and I encouraged him to share them here, with other Duke fans. At the time, he was still mourning the loss of his life's love, his wife Martha, and was ready to just get rid of his stuff and join her. Joining this message board gave him a new lease on life - he really enjoyed sharing his stories! Then he got involved in the 26 Bar Ranch and continued sharing about Duke and his life.

      In between being a teen-aged extra in movies and eventually living at the 26 Bar Ranch, William Brooks had an amazingly full life, with many experiences. Among them were being in Boy Scouts and having Barry Goldwater as his Scoutmaster, owning a business (actually, more than one in his lifetime) that eventually led him to reconnecting with John Wayne many years after being an extra in one of his movies, earning a black belt in karate, having a cooking show on local Arizona TV, flying a B52 in the war, being an instructor for NASA, . . . more than I can remember!

      He and his wife Martha had children (at least one son and one daughter, but I think there were more) and grandchildren, and possibly great-grandchildren. Bill lived alone at the 26 Bar, and I do not know any of the details of his death, except that he did die. He died in a place that he loved, surrounded by his many items of Duke memorabilia. He was able to give many Duke fans, from around the world, a tour of the ranch and share his stories (it was a privilege to be a part of that back in 2007). He will be sorely missed!

      May William T "Chili Bill" Brooks rest in peace!

      Chester :newyear: and the Mrs. :angel1:
    • Sad news indeed. Here is the full obit:

      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.

      Leave an online condolence at

      Sent from my Galaxy S III using Forum Runner
      Kevin - Moderator/Administrator
      Official JWMB online store

      The post was edited 4 times, last by Kevin ().

    • Re: In Memory of Chili Bill

      very sad news,he will be missed,he had great stories about john wayne and the 26 bar ranch.he's having a drink with duke in the roundup in the sky.R.I.P."Chili Bill"
    • Re: In Memory of Chili Bill

      It is with great sadness to hear of Bills passing. In his time he was a well respected member and an integral part of this forum. I knew something was amiss from the sudden stop to his posts. Just recently members contacted me, asking about Bill. I could only advise them to PM Jim- Chester, as if anyone knew anything it would be him. I am grateful to Jim and Sue for the sincerity of their search. It is once again, with sadness, that this is indeed the news.

      RIP Chillbill
      Best Wishes
      London- England
    • Re: In Memory of Chili Bill

      I used to talk with Bill on the phone now and then. Was trying to arrange a cattle drive with the Greatest American Horse Trails show. The Navajos put a damper on that. But I really enjoyed talking with Bill. He was a bit abrasive at first, but gradually warmed up over our calls. He told me many stories that I am sure he has posted on here. Funny though. He DID say he was Duke's pilot in the later years. I didn't see anything here about that. Maybe I just missed it. He talked of flying for the Hearsts and that is how he met Duke. I talked to the Mayor of the town close to the ranch. He told me some great stories about Bill also..........wonder if they did anything for him......will have to call and find out.

      Soar with the Eagles Bill.........and don't forget to take some of your Chili along! KEITH
      God, she reminds me of me! DUKE
    • Re: In Memory of Chili Bill

      May his soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

      Thank you Chester for all your efforts to find out what happened with Bill.

      He taught me a lot about the Duke. Hear's hoping he's riding heard with the Duke now in Heaven.

      "I have tried to live my life so that my family would love me and my friends respect me. The others can do whatever the hell they please."

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Tbone ().

    • Re: In Memory of Chili Bill

      chester7777 wrote:

      Thanks, Kevin, for finding that slightly better obit! It captures more than the one I found, but still seems so barren in comparison to his life.

      Yes it does, just wish we had known for certain about it earlier.
      Kevin - Moderator/Administrator
      Official JWMB online store
    • Re: In Memory of Chili Bill


      So sad to hear the news of Bills passing. He seemed to me in my limited dealings with him a genuine nice person I still have his cook books which he sent to me some years ago,a larger than life person who lived life to the full. R.I.P Bill.


      Walk Tall - Talk Low
    • Re: In Memory of Chili Bill

      Rest in Peace Chili Bill!! Very sorry to hear about this. He will be missed by all. I wonder if there is some way to send our condolences to his family from the forum??

      I remember when he started posting on the forum and he talked about his cook book all the time. I made mention in a post that I would sure like to get ahold of some of those recipes. Sure enough, the next day I had a PM from him asking for my address and that he was going to send me a cook book. I told him thanls and tried to pay him, he wouldn't hear of it. I have enjoyed a few things out of the cookbook but the best is certainly his chili.

      Funny thing also, I was on Facebook last night and noticed someone posted a Youtube video of the 26 Bar ranch and it was Bill describing all the Duke memorabilia that he owned or that was at the ranch. So I pop over to the forum(which I have been absent from for quite awhile :) ) and there was a issue with my account that wouldn't allow me to log in, which is now solved, THANKS Kevin!! So I wonder if Bill was "nudging" me alittle to get back over here. He sure help us realize things about Duke that we would never have known without him being a part of our community. We lost a good one down here but heaven gained a good cowboy!!

      RIP Bill
      Life is hard, its even harder when your stupid!!
      -John Wayne