The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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Jo McCulty

Q&A with alumni board member Kelley Crooks ’78

Crooks describes the family and personal history that inspire him to live a life in service.

Retired Air Force Col. Kelley Crooks ’78 inherited a service gene. “My family is replete with military, teachers, firefighters, EMTs and police officers. Helping and protecting others is what we do.” It follows, then, that after a distinguished military career, Crooks’ desire to serve others led him back to his alma mater and The Ohio State University Alumni Association Board of Directors. “What better way to continue to serve,” he asks, “than to help influence our support of current and future Buckeyes? 

Who is your Ohio State mentor?

As a student, I really didn’t have mentors, unless you count my two older brothers attending Ohio State with me. I worked my way through college and planned my classes. (In one of my favorites, on rhetoric, I presented the evolution of man based on Neil Diamond songs!) Today as an alumnus, I would say alumni association President and CEO Jim Smith has been a great leader, and my compatriot the last few years has been Dan Kimmet. We’re kindred spirits who embrace common-sense initiatives and bounce ideas off each other. That, to me, is a mentor — someone you can share ideas with. Dan has been a great sounding board for me.

How did your college experiences prepare you for the Air Force and other professional endeavors?

I wasn’t expecting to go into the military. In fact, I came out of college working for Warner QUBE TV in Columbus. But Warner cut back and I found myself unemployed, so I applied for officer training school. All the media, literary and public-speaking courses I took enabled me to clearly communicate mission needs over the next 28 years. I’ve used the skills I learned at Ohio State in all my positions, including five years in radio and as a book author.

What does it mean to you to be celebrating Ohio State’s sesquicentennial?

I graduated in 1978. Feels like a long time ago and makes me seem old. So I just remember, “But Ohio State is 150 years old.” And now I feel young again! Considering how many great people are fellow Buckeyes — from Jesse Owens to former Gov. John Kasich and actors, athletes and scholars of all kinds — this school has had an enormous influence in the United States and the world.

What is your most memorable day as an alumnus?

It was the day Archie Griffin announced to my alumni club at a barbecue dinner that I would be receiving the alumni association’s Professionalism Award for 2010. A great honor announced by an Ohio State icon. Wow!

You live in San Antonio now, and you’ve lived and visited places all over the world. What’s your favorite place?

My dad was in the Air Force so we moved around a lot — I’ve lived in 17 different states. As a kid, we spent time in Hawaii during elementary school. Surfing was fun. As an adult, it was probably in Colorado when I was working at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and spent my free time skiing and enjoying other outdoor activities.

Where is your favorite place on campus?

Longaberger Alumni House, obviously! It’s where I go to connect with Ohio State. I used to live down the street off Olentangy River Road, and my brothers and I would walk these grounds on our way to the ’Shoe on game days.

About the author

Dan Caterinicchia

Dan Caterinicchia is assistant vice president for strategy and administration in the Office of Advancement.