Nancy Ellen Crooks was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin on August 14, 1929.
Nancy married Howard Crooks on June 17, 1950, and accompanied him, to Africa for the first time in 1956.
Nancy devoted her life to the betterment of the primary educational system and the lives of women in Kenya. In 1967, Nancy co-founded and was the first headmistress of the American Community School with 30 children, mainly taught through correspondence courses. Within two years, Nancy had developed a new curriculum, hired teachers from the United States, and increased enrolment to 100 children. The school is now known as the International School of Kenya – one of the most prestigious and successful learning institutions in Kenya.
Nancy always enjoyed starting new ventures. In 2003, she assisted in the establishment of the Culinary Institute of Africa for adults of the Turkana tribe in Lokichoggio, northern Kenya. Students learned safari camp-related skills, and 75 Turkana men and women have since been employed in the safari business throughout Kenya. During the course, Nancy introduced the concepts of cooking and water purification using a solar cooker. She was later commissioned to erect commercial-size solar cookers to feed 1,500 children and teach Turkana women how to make their own cookers and cook with ‘Cookits’, using solar power exclusively, thus protecting the fragile ecosystem of the very arid northern part of Kenya.
Few individuals have made such a positive impact on the lives of those less fortunate than herself. Nancy gave of her time and expertise generously, and when she saw an injustice, she sought to make it right. She was a woman of strong convictions, and acted upon them to better the plight of those around her. Nancy was a devoted wife and mother, and a true visionary whose wisdom and knowledge touched countless lives.
Today, the Nancy Ellen Crooks Foundation takes inspiration from her accomplishments and aims to honor her legacy by continuing to implement project that bring happiness to children.
One thing is for sure, Nancy loved Kenya. In 1986, Nancy Ellen co-authored a booklet, entitled ‘Kenya Trivia’, about Kenya’s ecology, geography and culture. Forty-two thousand copies were published and sold. This publication was a key text used by individuals training to be guides in the national museum, as well as safari guides.Order Now