LAKE PLACID — George Henry Cronk, of Park Place in Lake Placid, died Monday, Dec. 8, 2008 at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. His death came peacefully in the bright-cold morning hours after several days of palliative care for pancreatic cancer, whose effects were first felt on Thanksgiving Day, less than 12 full days earlier.
Born Jan. 2, 1943 in Baltimore, Md., he was the son and only child of Kenneth S. Cronk and Laura Munson Cronk. Both of his parents were longtime residents of the Olympic Village, enjoying all those decades here from the third to the 13th Winter Olympic Games, except for the displacement during World War II, accounting for their son’s birth in Baltimore.
George was likely the youngest and brightest graduate in the Lake Placid High Class of 1960; he enjoyed the Methodist Youth Fellowship; he attended DeVry Institute of Technology in Chicago to obtain a degree in electronics; and he is very well known as a career-long letter carrier throughout North Elba for the United States Postal Service.
In later years of semi-retirement, George was a games keeper on the Rockefeller Estate, a snowsports school instructor at Whiteface Mountain, a groundsman at Saint Agnes Cemetery and a summer agent at High Falls Gorge in Wilmington Notch.
George was twice married, and the father of two children by his first wife, Donna Daniels, who still thrives.
George was an accomplished woodsman, hunter, Adirondack 46er, cross-country and alpine skier, and had recently purchased a large motorcycle, and had stacked six cords of firewood for the oncoming winter.
George had a passion for animal-raising and gardening. He raised laying hens and fryers at the Old Peacock Farm on Bear Cub Road, and he had a house full of African Violets, among other things. George’s only known enemy is a certain Parkside Drive mutt, who wanted to sink his canines into George’s thigh for a second bite of the old postman.
George was made in a special mid-20th century mold defined perhaps best by Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause.” But George needed no literary template, as his attitudes and life defined what became known as “The 1960s” before there were any 1960s. George was magnetic — he either strongly attracted or repelled. Those with the metal to be attracted were energized by the vibes of meekness and wildness that he radiated to all within his sphere. His special God-given talent was to exude a non-judgmental joy of life and humanity. He has that “quality” which Robert Pirsig identified in his “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” as lying neither in the objective nor the subjective, but which is the essence of life, of experience.
George is survived by his son George Henry Cronk, Jr. and his family of Orlando, Fla., including George Jr.’s wife, Erika In Cronk; granddaughter Chandra Cronk, 18, and grandson, Preston Cronk, 15.
George’s daughter, Deanna Cronk, died in 1980 in an auto-traffic tragedy at the age of 13.
He was predeceased by his mother on Nov. 14, 1983 and his father on June 24, 1992.
Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12 at the Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid. The funeral service, officiated by the Rev. Mark Demers of The Adirondack Community Church, will be held immediately following the calling hours at 7 p.m. Interment will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 in the North Elba Cemetery.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, and George also.