Scott W. Crook, outdoorsman, limerick enthusiast, and co-founder of Pack Rat Outdoor Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, passed away on June 10, 2019. He was surrounded by those he loved as slipped from one adventure to the next.
The byproducts of his kindness, honesty, and conservation efforts can be seen in the people who love him, including coworker and close friend, Chally Sims. “His philosophy was to love and take care of outdoor spaces and provide the best customer service. Don’t sell things to people that they don’t need, and be a resource. Give them the info they need to go to the nearest trail and make sure you’re doing your best to help them be safe out there,” Sims says.
Crook and his wife Carolyn started Pack Rat Outdoor Center in 1973 to fill an apparent gap in Fayetteville’s outdoor industry. Passionate about the outdoors from birth, Crook believed that when people experienced the outdoors they were more likely to appreciate and take care of it.
“Our love for our community and the outdoors can only be genuine through our commitment to our natural environment,” says Pack Rat’s website. The store has been an example of practicing what they preach and has been called one of the greenest outdoor shops in the country as they've implemented eco-friendly practices like their snack packaging recycling program.
Crook himself was actively engaged in local and national conservation, from his role as a founding member of the Ozark Highlands Trail Association to his involvement with Southern Utah Wilderness Association and National Audubon Society. Thanks in part to his passion for the outdoors, Pack Rat has become one of the most influential and philanthropic local business in the Northwest Arkansas region.
But for Sims, Crook’s commitment to his employees will be his enduring legacy. “He never came off like the boss that just sits in his office and does his thing, he was not like that at all. He was down amongst us and hanging out and being distracting, honestly,” she chuckled.
The Crooks frequently hosted staff parties at their home, cooking dinner and drinking a couple of beers. Scott Crooks was always telling jokes, and reportedly knew hundreds of ridiculous limericks. “We’d be at these parties and Carolyn [Crook] would be like, “Oh god Scott don’t tell that joke” Sims said with a laugh. “They’ve always treated us so well. And I think that really is evident in how long so many of us have stayed with the business.”
Chally Sims has been with Pack Rat Outdoor Center for 25 years, and she’s not the only one. Several longtime employees have been with the company for over 15 years. “We have people that have been around 20 to 25 years come in and help us on occasion when we have events. They are doing other things with their lives, but they’re still that connected with the business that they’re like, “Yeah keep my phone number, when you need extra people I’ll come in,” and they do. It’s amazing.”
Scott Crook’s commitment to the people and places surrounding him will persist long after he is gone.
He will be missed by many.