Posted On May 29th, 2011 -


Virginia Brooks Macdonald, FAIA passed away on May 9, 2011 at the age of 92. She was living at The Berkshire, an assisted living facility in Berkeley, CA, where she enjoyed the daily visits and companionship of her devoted friend, Jack Murphy. Born in Denver, Colorado in 1918, she moved with her four children from Ohio to Hawaii in 1958 after separating from her husband Paul Sherwood Brooks. In 1975, she married acclaimed volcanologist Gordon Macdonald, who passed away unexpectedly from cancer in 1978. From 1981 until 1999, she was married to Pacific historian Russ Apple. She lived in Hawaii until relocating to California in 2004.

She leaves a legacy in Hawaii that includes founding and operating Camp Timberline from 1963 to 1967; writing the 1974 legislation for the Na Ala Hele trail system (“Trails For Walking”) while employed with the State Department of Business and Economic Development; her successful 22-year architectural practice on the Big Island of Hawaii that began in 1978 when she turned 60; becoming a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1999; and publishing a nationally recognized book of her architectural work and passive solar design philosophy in 2005 when she was 87.

She is survived by her sister Mary Seaver of Estes Park, CO; her sons Philip Brooks of Berkeley, CA; Bill Brooks of Kailua, HI; Mike Brooks of Grapevine, TX; her daughter Anne Hormann of Pasadena, CA; stepsons Kuahiwi Apple of Ambridge, PA; James (Kimo) Macdonald of Kailua, HI; Duncan Macdonald of Lanikai, HI; Bill Macdonald of Volcano, HI; John Macdonald of Auckland, NZ; and her seven grandchildren.

She will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and the practice of architecture, good family times when she and Russ lived on Pukeawe Circle in Volcano, and her unfaltering spirit and strength of will. Her service will be held privately.

- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran