In Memory of Richard Brookins
The American St. Nick
Richard Brookins, who portrayed St. Nicholas—Klees’chen—on short notice in 1944, Wiltz, Luxembourg, died October 11, 2018. He was 96 years old. Unbeknownst to Richard Brookins, his impromptu appearance during Wold War II in Wiltz had become an annual celebration commemorating the joy Brookins and the other members of the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, had brought to the children in Wiltz.
In 1977, more than thirty years later, Wiltz invited the Brookins family to come to Wiltz to so Brookins could once more be the American St. Nicholas. He returned again in 1994, 1999, 2004 for the sixtieth anniversary, and again for the last time in 2014 at the age of 92 for the seventieth anniversary of the American St. Nick.
“He loved the people in that town and they’re still people alive who were children who remembered the actual parade and Dick Brookins taking part of it and they would come up to him and they would grab him and hug him and be crying and touch his face, they just wanted to thank him,” said Tim Gray of the the World War II Foundation, who had visited Wiltz with Brookins.
Richard Brookins’ story tells us that kindness can bring joy in even the darkest times and forge lasting friendships and gratitude. We join the people of Wiltz in honoring this man who brought the true spirit of St. Nicholas in 1944 and beyond.