Born in La Crosse, Wisconsin on August 14, 1929.
Nancy Ellen Crooks married Howard Crooks on June 17, 1950, and accompanied him, to Africa for the first time in 1956, where she devoted her life to the betterment of the primary education system and the lives of women in Kenya. In 1967, Nancy co-founded and became the first headmistress of the American Community School with 30 children, 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.