HomeIn MemoriamEdwin Monroe Cronk DS36 (1918-2020)

Edwin Monroe Cronk DS36 (1918-2020)

Edwin Cronk DS36 (right) and Jim Morefield DS79 establishing cairn and log book on summit of newly named Mount Nunn, Inyo Mountains, elevation 2385 m (7830 ft), 11 May 1980. Photo by Jim Morefield

From David Cole DS45:

I am most aware of [Ed’s] service in Japan after the war. He was on the staff of the Supreme Commander for Asia and the Pacific, otherwise known as SCAP, the head of which was Douglas MacArthur. Ed, who had majored in Economics at Cornell, I believe, played a critical role in managing the food support program for feeding the Japanese people in the immediate postwar years. The program that he developed gradually morphed into the US PL480 program for supplying surplus food all around the world. I believe that he was brought back to Washington to help design and manage that program and then found his way into the State Department where he had a truly distinguished career.

Ed was also the Economic Counselor at the US Embassy in Seoul in the latter part of the 1950s. He was very successful in reaching out to Korean officials and academics who were involved in formulating the country’s economic policies. He met regularly with these folks and probably hosted the meetings at his home. They dubbed themselves “The Thinkers Group” and I worked with many of them when I was the lead economist with the US Aid Mission in Seoul in the mid-1960s. Ed was confronted by the push back from the Sygman Rhee’s government and was not able to make much headway in actually changing policies, but he did influence the future policy makers with whom I worked in the much more receptive government in the mid-1960s during the early years of President Park.

Ed Cronk played a very important role, probably helped save hundreds of thousands of lives in postwar Japan, and more that I am not aware of. God bless him.

An Interview with Ed by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project is reproduced in the Deep Springs Archive.

The following material is reproduced from The Frederick News Post. Please visit the original article for additional information.

Edwin Monroe Cronk was born in Minneapolis, MN, on May 20, 1918, and died on September 1, 2020. Born to William F. Cronk and Edith Hanson, he grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from Central High School. He was a Troop #33 Eagle Scout.

Ed attended Deep Springs College (class of ’36) and then Cornell University (class of ’41). He married Dorothy Montgomery in 1943. During World War II, Ed served in the Air Force from 1942-1946 in the Pacific Theater. As part of the rebuilding of Japan after the War, Ed became Chief of the Japanese Financial Trade from 1951-1956 and was subsequently recruited into the Foreign Service. His tours of duty in the Foreign Service included Korea, Germany, and Australia, with a final assignment as Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore from 1972-1975.

After his retirement from government service, Ed accepted the position of Dean and Director of Deep Springs College, where he served with dedication from 1976-1980. In his words, “Deep Springs is, in many respects, like an extended family. Most of us develop an affectionate relationship with the institution and the people who shared with us the experience of living, working, and studying here. Names of people associated with the founder, and others who preceded us, became familiar and are like cousins or distant uncles whom we may not have met that are, nonetheless, part of the Deep Springs family. These relationships are for me, and I think for most of us, one of the very special things about the college.”

After serving as Director, he then served as a Trustee of the College including serving as Chair of the Board for 3 years. He also was in charge of a department at Goodwill. For his lifelong service to humanity he received the rarely awarded Deep Springs Medal.

He and wife Dorothy called Washington, D.C., home for many years until moving into a retirement community in Frederick, Maryland. Ed was preceded in death in 2008 by Dorothy, his wife of 66 years, and is survived by daughter MaryEd (Hartnell) of Sydney, Australia (and husband Anthony); son James of Surprise, Arizona (and wife Sally); daughter Nan (Cronk-Walker) of Frederick, Maryland (and husband Kenneth); 8 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. Ed lived a long and fulfilling life; he worked hard and played hard, laughed easily, was a friend to everyone and a terrific father.

Photos of Ed Cronk circa 1936 provided by Mary Ed Hartnell née Cronk