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Dr. Bill Brookshire: A Life Well-Lived

We often pay tribute to the giants of the industry here in the pages of Construction Citizen. We recently lost Dr. Bill Brookshire, a man whose legacy is largely focused on passing down the values of hard work and self-sufficiency. It is with pride that we present to you the story of his life as it was presented to those who attended his recent memorial service in Houston.

Dr. William Alfred (Bill) Brookshire, Co-Founder and longtime Chairman of S&B Engineers and Constructors, Ltd. died peacefully on the afternoon of Friday, April 21 at his beloved home near Lufkin, his hometown. He was 81 years old.

Bill graduated from Lufkin High School at the age of 16 where he played football and made lifelong friends. He attended Kilgore College on a football scholarship. He then finished his BS in Chemical Engineering in night school at University of Houston. He completed his MS and PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1960 at Louisiana State University with the help of a fellowship from Humble Oil. Some of his favorite honors were being inducted into the LSU College of Engineering’s Hall of Distinction 2012-2013 and being named a University of Houston Distinguished Alumni in 2017 and a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in 1989.

His first job after college was at the Humble Oil plant in Baytown, Texas. In 1966, he moved to SIP where he met James G. Slaughter, Sr. Together they founded S&B in 1967. This yea, he and his current business partner James G. Slaughter, Jr. and their employees are celebrating 50 years of a thriving business. S&B started out in a leased funeral home with wives decorating and daughters answering the phone. It now has offices worldwide and employs over 7,000 people. Still, it is not uncommon to meet team members with decades of tenure and families with multiple members as current or former employees.

Bill’s professional honors include being a past member of Government Programs Steering Committee of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a past Vice President of the ECC Executive board (Engineering and Construction Contracting Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers), a former member of the Rice University Engineering Board of Review, a former member of the Board of Industrial Advisors for the University of Houston College of Technology, and a 1998 recipient of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Engineering and Construction Contracting Division Award.

His later years were filled with great satisfaction when he created The William A. Brookshire Foundation. The primary purpose is to provide scholarships for children of S&B employees and engineering students that are working to support themselves (as he did). He ensured The Foundation would live beyond him to continue its support of students. He often retold the stories and accomplishments of his scholarship recipients that he got to know through annual visits to the schools and their letters to him.

Anyone who knew him would say, Bill’s happiest days were spent in the woods, hunting and fishing. He also enjoyed skeet shooting, photography and watching college football, especially UH Cougars and LSU Tigers. He loved hosting people at his home in East Texas where he proved to be a master cook. In his mind, a perfect day was spent with friends or family, a fire in the fireplace, a dry martini and a good cigar. Bill was an avid life-long learner. He studied everything from finance to fruit trees. The family joked if he was grumpy then he must be between projects.

He is preceded in death by his parents Fannie Estelle (Lawless) and Brady Bell Brookshire. He is survived by his children Lori and her husband John Garrison, James (Brook) and his wife Julie Brookshire, and Christina (Crissy) Brookshire. His legacy will live on in his treasured grandchildren William (Will) Brookshire, Connor Garrison and Caroline Garrison.