In 1943, a union of marriage between Loreatha Owens and E.B. Brooks would mark the beginning of a legacy that would extend to five generations of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
Mary Brooks (Marsh) Presley, their second child of nine, says that it’s a “gift of life” that the Brooks-Marsh family has each and every day.
In 1964, Mary married her high school sweetheart, Gary Brooks (son of John Raymond Marsh and Helen Marsh of Monticello). The two were only 16 and 18 when they eloped from Mary’s grandparent’s farm, where Mary had been brought to get her away from Gary.
The two were married for almost 18 years and had two children, Sonya Cox, and Suzanne (Orsak) Marshall.
While many of the Brooks and Marsh family still live in Madison and Jefferson County, Mary said, during a “wild hair idea” of hers, she and Gary transplanted both themselves and their children to Texas.
But they didn’t settle long. Mary remarks that, before finally settling, she and her husband roamed the United States. “I got to see a lot of beautiful places and some of God’s beautiful people,” said Mary.
Mary and Gary ended up getting a divorce and then remarrying and divorcing again for a final time before Mary met, and married, her second husband, John Presley.
Mary and Presley were married for over 20 years before Presley passed away.
Despite the divorce, Mary and Gary made sure to stay in contact, as friends, for their children’s sake and even today, the two remain close.
Gary never remarried, saying that his sweetheart was, and forever would be, Mary.
Mary and Gary’s two daughters, Sonya and Suzanne, would grow up in Texas and meet their own husbands and start families of their own.
But, it is the Madison and Monticello area that remains home.
“We live in Buna, Tx. but our home is here in Madison,” said Mary.
Mary’s oldest daughter, Sonya, has two children, Tanner and Brody Cox; and Suzanne, Mary and Gary’s second daughter, has two children, Gary Wayne and Kyle Orsak. Both Wayne and Orsak now have children of their own. Wayne’s daughter, Phoenix Orsak, and Orsak’s two children, Bryce and Dannivon Orsak make up the fifth generation of the Brooks-Marsh family.
Mrs. Loreatha Brooks still lives here in Madison County, but her husband E.B has since passed away.
Mary, now a widow herself after Presley’s passing, lives back and forth between Madison and Buna.
Her physical address may be in another state, but Mary insists that her home is in Madison, where she grew up, where she first fell in love and where so many strong childhood memories of a day when life was both more simple and at the same time, more difficult, were built.
Mary, who still has a friendship with Gary, says that they both want everyone to know that they haven’t forgotten where they came from, and where their roots were first settled.
“It’s a miracle, every day,” said Mary, and it can’t be denied, a family where five generations all still wake to see the sun, albeit rising in different time zones, isn’t something that happens frequently.