Cartoonist, doctor named 2010 outstanding graduates

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A noted editorial cartoonist and a young ophthalmologist who’s dedicated his life to saving the sight of poor Africans will be honored as Andalusia High School outstanding graduates this year.

The AHS Outstanding Graduate Award Committee chose Charles Brooks Sr., Class of 1939, and Dr. Ben Roberts, Class of 1991, as the 2010 recipients of the W. Robert Brown Outstanding Graduate Award.

Brooks served with the U.S. Army in World War II and was with the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment at Utah Beach, Normandy on D-Day and was involved in the Battle of the Bulge. He earned 13 Freedom Foundation awards and two Vigilant Patriot awards.

He studied at Birmingham Southern and at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and worked as an editorial cartoonist for The Birmingham News from 1948 until his retirement. He has served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. His work appears in more than 80 books.

In a letter supporting Brooks’ nomination, Roger Powell, whose father was a classmate of Brooks, wrote, “When I was a budding artist, I was captivated by his caricature drawings of the political figures and events of the day. I was amazed that someone from a place like Andalusia could be so involved in re-creating, satirizing and making us think about our world and to be able to do that on a large scale.”

This year’s second honoree, Roberts, was salutatorian of Andalusia High School and graduated Phi Beta Kapp from Birmingham Southern. His internship was at Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, and he completed a residency with UAB and Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital. From 2003-2005, he did a fellowship in vitreoretinal disease and surgery at Retina Consultants in Birmingham.

At present, he works as an ophthalmologist and missionary at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya.

Wrote one of his nominators, John Croft, “Ben Roberts is an extraordinary doctor, but more importantly, he is an extraordinary human being. His life is a model of discipline and commitment. We honor ourselves by recognizing our ties to him.”

Both men will be honored during AHS homecoming activities on Fri., Oct. 1, 2010.