RIP Papa Ron
PAPA RON CROCOMBE
1929 – 2009
Ron Crocombe and I ran this blog together for 16 months. It was one of many projects he pushed in his indefatigable quest to promote Pacific scholarship and Pacific voices. He was a tireless multi-tasker who collaborated with colleagues around the globe, often without fanfare or recognition.
I volunteered my services after the first conference of the Cook Islands Research Association in February 2008, an organization founded by “Papa Ron” and a team of scholars to promote research and dialogue about our homeland.
The conference was a great success. People came from around the Pacific to present fascinating papers on critical issues like land rights, fish poisoning and nuclear exposure. A swarm of new members and distinguished patrons signed up, swelling CIRA’s nascent coffers. There was lots of local and regional media coverage.
It was a special event for my father, Dr. Joe Williams, and me. Ron and Marjorie asked us both to present papers, and they invited Dad to deliver the keynote speech on his pioneering research in tropical medicine during the early days of Cook Islands independence.
I’ve known the Crocombe family since childhood. We grew up with their kids and read all their books. Ron and Marjie are the father and mother of Pacific scholarship, always encouraging the pursuit of knowledge and ideas, generating screeds of books and papers on all aspects of Pacific history, society and cultures.
Ron insisted on providing a forum for Pacific stories, no matter how small or remote. As a scholar, writer, editor and educator for six decades, he mentored generations of colleagues and students. Education and status were never barriers – he encouraged everyone to speak up and have their say.
That’s what this blog is about. Ron emailed reports, updates, papers and other information that I’d edit and post. He took no credit or by-line. It was just another aspect of his extraordinary service to the nation and the world.
Ron’s message is to tell your own story, in your own words. His enormous legacy will continue to inspire all of us, and the next generation of storytellers.