Local Grower Leaves Lasting Legacy

  • George Crook (pictured left) with his late wife Lettie alongside nephew John Crook
    (pictured right) with late wife Lyn in the foreground.

It’s often said a gardener gives back more than they receive and in the case of the late George Malcolm Crook that couldn’t ring more true.

Passing away at the ripe age of 94 last year, the man who started out in life as a green-fingered market gardener George left a gift in his estate with instructions to his family that the money left be used to help local people in need.  On deciding where George’s hard earned money would be directed, his trustee (nephew John Crook) chose Hawke’s Bay Foundation as the vehicle for George’s gift.

“To plant a garden you have to believe in tomorrow and my uncle identified strongly with Hawke’s Bay, he loved living here and its people.  Coming from humble beginnings, I would characterise him as always giving and helping others.  For a man who lived fairly modestly, he was one of the most generous and caring people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.”

Napier born George Crook’s $25 thousand gift has been transferred to Hawke’s Bay Foundation’s endowment fund, where the capital will never be touched, but the interest earned will be used to support local charities where it’s needed most.

George’s Named Fund will have legacy leaving impact for generations to come and Foundation Executive Officer Amy Bowkett says that should give his family a sense of comfort and great pride.

“We are very grateful that John chose Hawke’s Bay Foundation as a safe set of hands to fulfil his uncle’s wishes to give back to the community he so loved.”

In life, George Crook was unafraid of hard work, often up with his brother James before school cutting asparagus on his parents’ market garden at Whakatu only to head home after school to hoe weeds.  When his brother James left home, George and his parents moved to Havelock North with his father living on an invalids benefit from injuries sustained in the First World War.

George took on a number of jobs including working for Pickerings Carriers and later joined the Hawke’s Bay County Council as roading overseer.  When his father died in 1963, George became primary care giver for his mother and remained single until after her passing, at which time he went overseas for the first time in his life.  On a tour of Europe George met and later married his now late wife Lettie at the age of 62.  They were happily married for 25 years and with no children of his own, George went on to work as Roading Engineer for the Hastings District Council until his retirement.  George was well known and well-liked throughout the Hawke’s Bay area.

For nephew John who shared a close relationship with George, facilitating his wishes after his passing has been a nostalgic process.

“George taught me to drive when I was nine, he and a work colleague were carting hay in a big Bedford truck, they’d set it up and put it in first gear, pull the choke out with the hayloader on the side, and away we went!  Steering that truck with two guys on the back, I remember that very fondly.

“George had very a dry sense of humour, he was fiercely independent and always pulling my leg or my daughter’s  leg, with the best one liners.  If gardening adds years to your life and life to your years then George proved the embodiment of that.”

As well as a gift to Hawke’s Bay Foundation, George Crook left donations to Hastings Church (which is working with homeless people) and to several other charities working in Hawkes Bay and elsewhere.

“His instructions to me when working out his affairs was that he wanted the money to be given to people in need and organisations that he would have really identified with.  We felt Hawke’s Bay Foundation would make appropriate decisions about where it’s needed most,” says John.