Robert Crooks

It is with much saddness we learned of the death of longtime Parkersburg pediatrician Dr. Robert Crooks. Crooks, 91, died Tuesday at his home.

With his passing, the area lost a man who had contributed so much to our area during his lifetime. For more than 40 years, Dr. Crooks was a beloved doctor who treated thousands of Wood County youngsters for the usual assortment of colds, fevers, aches, pains and other ailments brought on by the perils of childhood.

It is a tribute to both his skill as a doctor and to his caring personality that he ended up treating many of his own patients’ children, a bond of trust and love passed down like a family heirloom from one generation to the next. His retirement from medicine in 1992 may have halted his practice, but we doubt that bond of trust and love ever ended.

While many families knew Dr. Crooks as a doctor, many other people knew him through his other interests, all of which he pursued with the same passion as his medical practice. Longtime friend and former West Virginia University at Parkersburg instructor Bernie Allen called Dr. Crooks “a renaissance man” because of his varied and successful pursuit of those interests. This was an apt description because in addition to being a successful doctor, he was a knowledgeable historian, especially on the topic of the American Civil War. From 1986-89, he served on the state Archives and History Commission after being appointed by then-Gov. Arch Moore. He was active on the Civil War Roundtable and is credited with creating a historic survey of each district in the county, as well as a survey of pre-World War II structures in the county.

He was also an extremely talented artist. His talent with a brush dovetailed nicely with his interest in history and resulted in the creation of more than 1,000 paintings, many being packet boats and sternwheelers, old buildings, barns and churches. “His compositions were almost stark,” Parkersburg Art Center Director Abby Hayhurst said. “One or two things were featured in his works and painted in such wonderful detail.”A retrospective of his work was featured by the Parkersburg Art Center several years ago.

Dr. Crooks’ funeral will be held today. We would like to extend our sympathies because we, too, are saddened by his death. Dr. Crooks was a unique man. He touched the lives of many people in many different ways.