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Family copes after loss

The Brooks family has been clinging to one another and their faith in the days since they lost two loved ones and everything they own in a tragic house fire in Belgrade.

Carl “Smiley” Brooks and daughter Martha “Marty” McWhirter died in a fire on Tedder Road on Nov. 20.

“They are doing a lot better than I thought they would do,” said Natashia Brooks Boesing, Brooks’ granddaughter and McWhirter’s niece. “Monday was a hard day for us, for the whole family. That was the one week mark of everything that happened and it was the first day we weren’t surrounded by people. We were just trying to go back to a normal routine.”

She added they have stayed together as a family and are holding up pretty well.

“We are definitely devastated, we never expected something like that to happen,” said Boesing. “I knew my time with my grandpa was limited because he was getting up there in age and he and my aunt were both in bad health. But I never dreamed that I would lose the both of them in the way that we did. We have come together as a family and we are holding each other strong. Had we not had the family bond that we have, we would all be doing a lot worse.”

Boesing said there is an account set up at Belgrade State Bank to help finish paying for the burial of her aunt because she didn’t have insurance.

“There is an account there if anybody would like to make a donation,” said Boesing. “As far as needs, they need household items. They lost everything in the fire. They are devastated and it has been very hard.”

Boesing said they don’t need any more clothes. They are just in need of household items and furniture. All their household items are gone, so they will need beds, dressers, dishes, cookware, towels, and more.

“The granddaughter, Tracey, who was living in the house, has found a place to stay and my grandmother is staying with my dad right now,” Boesing said. “She is not going to be getting in any big hurry to go anywhere. I think she will stay with my dad for a while. Tracey has three children and they did find a place to stay.”

She said the clothes and the food that have been donated and brought to her family has just been overwhelming.

“It’s been an overwhelming response. Our community has really pulled together for my family,” said Boesing. “I’ve never been in favor of small-town life, out in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do, but this is the second time the community has pulled together in my family’s time of need. They have definitely gone above and beyond.”

Boesing said that four years ago her brother-in-law lost his leg in a work accident at the feed store in Belgrade and at the community went above and beyond to help their family.

“From me and my family, we would to extend a big thank you to the community,” said Boesing. “Not just the community here, but everyone who has helped. We have had people helping as far as St. Charles and everywhere in between. A big, big thank you to everybody who has reached out and helped my family and has been there for them.”

She said there are so many people who don’t know the family and they reached out to help them.

“It’s very heart-warming to know that people still care about others,” said Boesing. “Their vehicles were not lost in the fire, they were damaged and are being fixed. Dave Sinclair offered to fix them, he is doing everything for free.”

Boesing said last week alone she had 195 messages on her Facebook Messenger from people in the local community who were wanting to donate.

“It got so overwhelming that I had to turn my phone off for a while,” Boesing said. “I took on the responsibility of picking up donations since everyone was so overwhelmed. I spent all of Tuesday and Wednesday picking up donations for my family.”

Boesing said each time she went to pick up donations, they “jigsaw puzzled” everything into her SUV to make it fit.

“It is amazing, I never dreamed such a small community could come together like they have,” said Boesing. “There aren’t enough words to thank everyone for what they have done.”

For anyone who would like to donate, there are several ways. An account is set up at Belgrade State Bank to help with funeral costs, and a family friend set up a GoFundMe account,, to help with Christmas. Boesing can be reached at 573-934-2704 or through Facebook.


Martha “Marty” McWhirter, left, and Carl “Smiley” Brooks, right, died in a tragic house fire on Nov. 20 on Tedder Road in Belgrade.

The Brooks family was known for their generosity and kindness and for fostering children in the foster system. They had even adopted several foster children into their own family and were known for never turning anyone away.

The Brooks family was known for their generosity and kindness and for fostering children in the foster system. They had even adopted several foster children into their own family and were known for never turning anyone away.

One of Carl

One of Carl “Smiley” Brooks’ granddaughters and her family were living with the Brooks. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise money for Christmas for the children.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or

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