Ian Crook (OK ex-staff) died September 1, 2021

Ian Crook was a teacher in the art department at King’s from 1987 to 2001. He died at the West Suffolk Hospital, where he was being treated for advanced bladder cancer.

In memory of Ian Crook:

In the best possible way, Ian was something of a law unto himself. Our first encounter can exemplify Ian’s independent, even unique approach to work and life. One morning in the Spring Term, nearly forty years ago, I picked up the ringing departmental ‘phone to find that the caller was asking to speak to the Director of Art. If I recollect correctly, he announced that he had not made an application for the vacant post for a ceramics teacher. Still, he was nearby with a few boxes of his work, and would I be kind enough to see him, and a formal application would follow should this be appropriate.

His presence was forceful and his C.V. encouraging. His work was professional, and his explanation of his procedures is of great interest. I recollect that the whole department joined in when their classes had left for lunch, and Ian continued his presentation quite unabashed. As he outclassed all the other candidates, we decided that he was our man. I arranged for him to see Robin Reeve, one of the most supportive Headmasters an art department could wish for, who said that if he was our choice, that was OK with him, as he too found Ian as impressive as his work.

Ian was unstinting in giving his time to the boys. He charmed his colleagues across both junior and senior school with gifts of mugs stylishly decorated with their names, initials and year of arrival at King’s. We were fortunate to receive numerous tableware items at Christmas in the department. Ian was an excellent craftsman, and his milk jugs never dripped! The things he gave me will no longer do the kitchen rounds and will, from now on, occupy a safer spot.

An incident that tells a lot about Ian is that one day, he asked me if I had been for a PSA test for prostate cancer, something with which he had been diagnosed. Having no symptoms, I had not been for this test, never having heard of it. He told me that I would be an idiot if I failed to get tested. A few months later, he asked what the results had been. ‘What results’ I asked. He was furious and made me promise to have a PSA test as soon as possible and that he would shortly be enquiring after the results. He did, and I had. Ian saved my life, as had I ignored this, prostate cancer would undoubtedly have killed me.

This speaks to the heart of Ian, a quiet but connected person whose kind and caring nature was far more sympathetic than many of us realised. He was greatly respected by the boys for the high quality of his teaching and liked for the very genuine care and kindness that lay behind his strict demeanour.

Vernon Barnes
Director of Art from 1984 to 2003