Locals recall legacy of Dr. Bob Crooks

PARKERSBURG – Local art and history lovers suffered a loss Tuesday with the passing of Dr. Bob Crooks.

Crooks, who died at his home Tuesday at age 91, spent 40 years as a pediatrician in Parkersburg. He spent a lifetime devoted to history and art.

Mid-Ohio Valley historian Bernie Allen considered Crooks a dear friend and labeled him a renaissance man, “because of his talents in medicine, art and history.”

Bob Enoch, president of the Wood County Historic and Preservation Society, said the area lost a great historian and person.

“Far too many people didn’t get to know him,” Enoch said. “He was a great person.”

Crooks was active in the area, particularly in the arts and historical community.

He was a charter member of the Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission and a member of the Wood County Bicentennial Commission (1999) and the city’s 1985 Bicentennial Committee.

In 1986, Gov. Arch Moore appointed Crooks to the state Archives and History Commission, on which he served until 1989.

Crooks was active on the Civil War Roundtable. Jim Miracle, president of the Wood County Landmarks Commission, said Crooks was a great historian. He credited Crooks 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.

Miracle said his re-enactment portrayal of a Civil War surgeon is based on Crooks’ writings and research on Civil War medicine.

“As far as Civil War historians, he was excellent,” Miracle said. “Bob Crooks was a great historian. Just a great person. I learned a lot of stuff from him.”

Miracle added he wouldn’t be in the world without him.

“When I was delivered, I was having trouble breathing,” Miracle said. “He was out in the hall, came in and relieved the obstruction I had. I’d tell him I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.”

Crooks retired from medicine in 1992. He remained heavily involved in art and history, particularly the Civil War and the Belleville area, where he grew up.

“As he got older, he did a lot of exploring and documenting the history of Belleville,” said his son Tom Crooks. “That expanded more into the Wood County area.”

Allen said Crooks was instrumental in his books on local history, providing editing work and detailed, hand-drawn maps.

“It’s a great loss for Parkersburg, because of his interest in history,” Allen said.

Abby Hayhurst, director of the Parkersburg Art Center, said Crooks was a marvelous painter. He enjoyed painting packet boats and sternwheelers and old buildings, barns and churches.

“His compositions were almost stark,” Hayhurst said. “One or two things were featured in his works and painted in such wonderful detail.”

Tom Crooks said his father painted more than 1,000 works of art.

“He really loved old churches, schools and barns and things like that,” he said.

The art center did a retrospective of Crooks’ work a few years ago.

“He will be missed and honored. There just isn’t a nicer fellow,” Hayhurst said.

Crooks’ services will be 1 p.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church. Burial will be at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Visitation will be 5-8 p.m. today at Leavitt Funeral Home in Parkersburg.