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In loving memory of Isabel Crook

Isabel Crook
Isabel Crook


Isabel Crook passed away on the 20th August 2023, aged 108.

I had the pleasure of meeting her several times in her home, at lunch, and attending meetings that she also came to. She was indeed a venerable old lady, with a keen mind and a fighting spirit to the end.

Here I include “Memories from friend Li Jianping”. (Li Jianping worked for China Youxie until retiring several years ago. He spent five years as the secretary to Rewi Alley, and is now a vice chair of Gong He.)

In loving memory of Miss Isabel Crook

It rained heavily in Beijing this afternoon, thunder rumbled and bad news came from the thunderstorm. Our respected teacher Isobel died this morning at the age of 108.

Isabel was born in Sichuan, returned to Canada to go to college and then went back to China to take part in the revolution, and then put her energies into work in China meeting the needs
of the times, and from then on worked in foreign language teaching.

She was enthusiastic about social welfare and advocated international friendship. At the age of 104, she was awarded the National Medal of Friendship at the Great Hall of the people.
Last year, in her book, “I loved China all my life” she said, “I was lucky to witness this great era, and I believe that the China I love is getting better and better.” The people she loved all her life were very proud to have such an international friend.

I first knew of Isabel when I was studying abroad in the late 1970s, and had more close contact with her after I retired in the last few years, when I served as Vice President of the Industrial Cooperation International (Gong He) established by Mr. Alley in the 1930s.

As a result of this working relationship, I went to Chairman Michael Crook’s home several times and met Miss Isabel. She was so amiable, elegant, and healthy. In the early 2000s, there were notebooks and pens on the table of the living room and restaurant, marked with a week’s work, and portraits of Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou hung on the wall. She often comes with Michael to take part in our working activities.

None of the comrades who met her were not captivated by her mental and physical condition at work. Isabel had known Alley as early as the 1940s and supported from then on. When she was 102 years old, she wrote to the Central Committee to introduce the situation and helped to solve the problems in the cooperative work. We, the co-workers, thank her.

She was a pioneer of Beijing Foreign Academy and made great contributions to the cause of foreign language education in our country. During the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution, she also suffered a lot. She was locked up in the dormitory where she lived for three year, until Premier Zhou intervened.

She enthusiastically devoted herself to her education and social work, and her love for China never wavered. Her husband, Professor Crook, passed away 23 years ago. She personally arranged her husband’s funeral, and sang Chinese and foreign revolutionary songs with her colleagues and students, just like sending off a brave man to war. 

At the end of her glorious life, Chairman Michael Crook and her family, in accordance with her last wish, had a simple funeral without holding a farewell ceremony, and donated her body to medical research.

The Guardian, Isabel Crook obituary