Bob R. Brooks Jr., Arkansas' chief deputy attorney general, died Sunday at the age of 61, Attorney General Tim Griffin announced.
A native of Fort Smith, Brooks had been in his role since he was appointed by Griffin at the start of Griffin's term in 2023.
Griffin said Brooks had not been feeling well late last week, and he had sought medical care on Friday before he died suddenly Sunday morning.
Brooks is survived by his parents and a sister.
In a statement, Griffin said he was "devastated" to learn of the passing of Brooks.
"Bob and I were the best of friends for decades, and he was like a member of my family," Griffin said. "My children called him Uncle Bob, and his frequent visits were a joy to all."
In a phone interview, Griffin said he met Brooks in the mid-1990s, when Brooks was serving as the chief of staff for then-Arkansas congressman Jay Dickey, and Griffin was a "relatively new attorney who had moved to Washington to work as a prosecutor."
The two of them worked together at the Republican National Committee.
Brooks was later appointed by then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to be the first director of the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
"He loved his job at the attorney general's office," Griffin said. "He loved it so much, we couldn't get him to go home on time."
Griffin said Brooks had an "unmatched depth and breadth" of knowledge when it came to Arkansas jurisprudence and politics.
"He [had] almost a photographic memory with numbers and stats and data, and he would just wow people in meetings," Griffin said.
Griffin recalled interviewing someone from the previous administration about the possibility of keeping him on Griffin's staff. The interview took place at a Starbucks in Little Rock, and Brooks was with Griffin.
"I said to this guy, 'How much do you currently make?'" Griffin recounted. "And he said, 'Oh, I make about so and so.' And Bob goes, 'Actually, you make exactly this dollar, exactly this cents.' And he looked at Bob like, 'How do you know that?'
"Bob had memorized the pay table," Griffin said.
The attorney general also said it would be "really, really impossible to replace" Brooks in his role.
"It would take two or three people just to try," Griffin said. "So it's a big loss."
State Sen. Ben Gilmore, R-Crossett, had known Brooks for about five years and spoken with him as recently as Thursday.
"I considered Bob a really close friend and confidant," Gilmore said. "He was basically someone that I could just run things past. When you just needed an opinion, you can just call Bob up.
"He was the guy who always made you feel, not just special, but important, and treated you with the utmost respect," Gilmore said.
Brooks was a graduate of the Sam M. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and a graduate of the University of Tulsa College of Law. He served as chief of staff to then-U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee.