STOCKTON (WREX) — It’s been five months since Illinois State Police Trooper Brooke Jones-Story was killed in the line of duty. She was working on the side of the road when a Scott’s Law violator struck and killed her.
In Stockton, her husband Robert is keeping her memory and legacy alive in a unique way. The retired Illinois State Police Master Sergeant runs a satellite rescue for the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue.
“I think it takes somebody special to want to do this,” says Robert. “To want to take on an animal that’s so unfamiliar.”
Robert and Brooke opened the rescue before her death. He says Brooke had a deep, unwavering love for animals and would do anything to help them. When asked, “why donkeys?”, Robert doesn’t skip a beat.
“Brooke! That’s the easiest answer,” he says with a laugh. “The thing Brooke would say is they couldn’t help themselves even thought they were sweet animals. She wanted to help them. So that’s why donkeys.”
Robert and Brooke signed on to foster a group of 16 donkeys before her death. A delivery that was put on hold until he got his feet back on the ground.
“This would have been the group that Brooke would have just insanely loved,” says Robert. “There’s really not a shy one in the group.”
This July Robert decided it was time. He was ready to open up his farm and his heart to the herd of donkeys. At his farm, Robert fosters the donkeys until their forever home comes along. But moments spent with his guests make it seem like Brooke is visiting too.
“This is the group she would have brought a chair out and just sat with them,” says Robert with a smile. “And just let them love on her. And she would have loved on them. This is what she loves. This is what’s great for her. You try to do what you know your partner would have always wanted, She’d be proud we’re still doing it. This was her dream, this is what she wanted to do. This is what she always wanted to do.”
And like most rescues, it’s unclear exactly who is saving who in this relationship.
“You know what, it helps. It obvioiulsy helps. It keeps me busy, it gives me something to do. I always have some place I can come. This is what she loved. and this is what would make her so happy. How can you not be happy doing it?”
Robert says one of the donkeys was adopted by a woman who named it Troop in honor of Brooke.