Elizabeth “Lib” MacGregor Crooker Bates, died tranquilly on October 21, 2011 at her home in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire. In her 92nd year, she was profiled as founder of a group of retired hikers in the book, Over the Hill Hikers, and she won L.L. Bean’s 2011 Outdoor Hero Award.
Lib was born in Reading, Massachusetts in 1919, the daughter of Helen Emerson MacGregor and “Red Mac” (Milton) MacGregor, the first manager of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s hut system with whom she and her OH brother “Ski Wax” (Arthur) MacGregor spent childhood summers tramping the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Though not an OH herself because women didn’t work at Pinkham in the 1930s, she spent summers working at the Glen House.
Lib attended high school in Needham, Massachusetts. She graduated in 1940 from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine along with the football team’s captain, Charlie Crooker, who became her husband of more than 50 years. They completed Yale Divinity School in the class of 1943. He became a Congregational minister and she worked as a public school teacher in Holden and Great Barrington, Massachusetts. On moving to Brockton, Massachusetts, she began a second career as a tax preparer. During their retirement to a rustic farmhouse in Center Sandwich, she continued to prepare taxes while Charlie continued as guest preacher at churches throughout the region.
After Charlie’s death in 1994, Lib married Dr. Frank Bates of Center Sandwich, and they enjoyed a 13 year marriage until Frank’s death in May 2011.
Her genius came out in community organization where she played key roles: The Over the Hill Hikers (16 years as Den Mother), the Sandwich Women’s Club (2 years as president), Ladies Aid (president and other offices), the Bates Class of 1940 (president), the Sandwich Players (3 years as business manager), Sandwich’s Land Trust Committee which established the Bearcamp River Trail (member), Caregivers (6 years as board member), and also the Garden Club, the Friends of the Library, and the Sandwich Historical Society. She sang in the church choir and with the Sandwich Singers, and served on many church committees.
She frequently hiked, skied, and played tennis and bridge. She photographed everything and loved grubbing in her gardens. She cherished travel and camping throughout the United States and Canada in her vintage Chevy Van, first with Charlie and later with Frank, her co-explorers of nature’s grandeur.
She is survived by her four children, Carol Farnsworth of Venice, Florida, OH Constance Crooker and Catherine Crooker of Portland, Oregon, and OH Charles A. Crooker of Stoughton, Massachusetts. She is also survived by three step-children, and eleven grandchildren.
A service will be held on Saturday, November 5 at 1:00 p.m. at the Federated Church of Sandwich (Main Street) in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, followed by a reception at 140 North Sandwich Road.
Donations in her name may be made to The Charlie’s Bridge Fund of the Wonalancet Out Door Club, c/o Connie Crooker, 140 N. Sandwich Rd., Center Sandwich, NH, 03227, or to the Federated Church of Sandwich, PO Box 267, Center Sandwich, NH 03227.