Donald Raymond Crook, acclaimed Western Artist, passed away on March 16, 2019 in Yakima, following an extended illness.
Don was born July 24, 1934 on Pettibone Island, La Crosse, Wisconsin to Otto and Eleanor “Dolly” (Buckley) Crook. The family moved to Gold Beach, and later Vernonia, Oregon. In the 1940’s, Don’s family moved to Yakima where he attended school, graduating from Yakima High in 1954. Don excelled in athletics and had a life-long passion for sports. He received a football scholarship to YVC, where he studied art and history.
Don’s career began as a commercial artist for local stores and painting ads for Coca Cola, then as the Art Director at Kwik Lok Corporation, where he worked for 45 years until his retirement at age 80.
His fine art career began with seascapes, but his love of the old west and history won out. Don was known as the “Norman Rockwell of Western Art.” His award-winning art depicted Western wildlife, and his monumental historical murals adorn buildings in Toppenish, Ellensburg, and The Dalles, where his artwork commemorates the end of the Oregon Trail.
The Larson Art Gallery honored Don’s extensive artistic achievements in 2014 with the exhibit “Don Crook: Painting the West.” Don has painted many historical commissions; his work was exhibited in the Rotunda of the nation’s Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Don loved sports, basketball, football, golf & baseball. He coached and sponsored local ball teams, including the Mavericks, a semi-pro team. Don supported the Parker Youth & Sports Foundation.
As a movie buff, Don watched his favorites during endless hours of painting in his studio. He also enjoyed special getaways to the Oregon Coast with his wife, beachcombing and hunting for antiques, but never without his easel and paint brushes.
Don is survived by his wife and love of his life, Shirley Crystal Crook; her children: Robert, Kelly, and Shawn (Victoria) Crystal; grandkids Ashlee, Petey, Levi, Tyler & Jessie; Don’s children and grandchildren: Kelly Crook (Lynn Zeutenhorst), Holland, Gabriel, & Rusdan; Kerry Crook (Vic Mason), Clarie & Sam; Kirsten (Ed) Chadwick, Logan & Taylor; Korinne Baich, Joel, Preston, & Easton; Kim’s daughter Abby; great-grandchildren: Alexis, Chloe, & Caleb; Kent (Meg) Crook, Ron (Cena) Crook, and Darline Melendy. Don was preceded in death by his parents, his daughter Kimberly, brothers Bill Crook & Shirley, Russell Crook & Pauline, and Leah Laurent.
A private burial was held at Terrace Heights Memorial Park on March 22nd. Memorial services will be April 27th at 2:00 at Wiley Union Church, 2711 S. Wiley Rd., Yakima, WA. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Yakima Valley Pet Rescue, P.O. Box 944, Yakima, WA 98907, yvpr.org.