Brooke Whiting amassed his collection of art from world traveling, worldwide associations with prestigious antique dealers and auction houses, and through inheritance from his sister Anne Whiting,
his life partner Wesley Griswold, and his parents Brooke and Ruth Whiting.
Brooke Whiting was born on December 5, 1918 to F. Brooke I and Ruth White Whiting of 632 Washington Street, Cumberland, Maryland. His father was a prominent attorney in Cumberland; his mother was the daughter of Warren C. White, a former mayor of Cumberland and founder of the German Brewing Company. Brooke II had an older sister, Anne Frances, born in 1913; she had a distinguished career with the C.I.A.
Brooke II had a successful and impressionable career. His educational esteem began with attending Tome School for his high school years. Like his father, he attended the University of Virginia for his undergraduate studies and attained his Bachelor’s Degree in 1941. During World War II he was in the American Field Service with the British Army and drove an ambulance in Africa and Italy. From August 1951 – June 1956 he was principal librarian assistant for the Clark Library of UCLA. Next, he attended Columbia University and acquired his Master’s in Library Sciences in 1957 and returned to UCLA. His career initiated as Literary Manuscripts Librarian and followed in 1971 as Curator of Rare Books and Assistant Director of Special Collections. He was instrumental in the following exhibits: “Antiquarian Booksellers of California,” “Not Tantamount to Rarity: Fifty Years of Collecting,” and “Picturing Childhood.” He retired in April 1983 after over thirty years of service with UCLA. His efforts and contributions to the advancement and specialization of UCLA’s library department were honored in October and November 2000 with “A Tribute to Brooke Whiting” in the faculty exhibit area of the Charles E. Young Library. Moreover, the foreword to the library’s illustrated children’s book collection applauds the foresight of Brooke and others who began accumulating the book collection.
Even though he served for thirty-two years as Curator of Rare Books and Literary Manuscripts for UCLA, he never forgot his deep roots in Allegany County. He spent the holiday season in his native town and hosted fabulous cocktail parties in his childhood home. In addition, he visited the Gordon-Roberts House, the headquarters of the Allegany County Historical Society located at 218 Washington St. Despite residing in California, he remained a faithful member of the Allegany County Historical Society. In fact his parents were instrumental in founding the society. In 1982 Brooke honored the memory of his parents and their fervor for the Society by donating pieces of their furniture to the Gordon-Roberts House Museum.
Brooke’s desire to preserve Cumberland’s history and traditions via contributions to the Historical Society extended beyond his membership dues and donating some of his parents antique furnishings. He deeply wished to provide the community with remnants of his rich heritage and the exquisite and historically valuable collections amassed in his lifetime from world traveling, worldwide associations with prestigious antique dealers and auction houses, and inheritance from his life-partner Wesley S. Griswold. Thus, upon his death in 1998, he bequeathed his Cumberland house and its contents to the Society on the condition that his home be opened as a museum. Fully aware of the financial struggles and bleak funding facing the museum world, he left a substantial endowment that guarantees his legacy will be viewed in perpetuity by visitors locally and abroad.
After selective heart surgery, Brooke developed an infection and died on July 27, 1998 at St. John’s Health Center in Los Angeles. His cremated remains rest at Rose Hill Cemetery in Cumberland.