Remembering Jim Cronk

By Roger Eastman | American Planning Association
Submitted to Rose Law Group Reporter

It is with deep sadness that I write to tell you that Jim Cronk, the retired Planning Director from the City of Flagstaff (2005 – 2014) passed away on the morning of September 21, 2020 after several days in hospital. Jim had been battling cancer for the last few years. He did so with courage, a smile, and an unceasingly positive attitude.

Jim was fearless and unflinching to the end. Despite fighting with the ill effects of his third round of chemotherapy, Jim and his wife Sally recently moved from their house in Youngtown to a new home near Sun City West. Talking to him a few weeks ago he was excited at the prospect of his new home and of finally beating cancer. Jim joined me and other “senior planners” at a session of the Arizona Planning Association conference this year. While his voice was a little strained, the wisdom, experience, and knowledge he shared as a panelist was classic Jim. It was obvious he had spent many hours preparing for the session. His love for sharing the expertise he gained from years of working in local government was reflected in his thoughtful comments.

Jim retired from the City of Flagstaff after a long and distinguished career as a public sector planner. After receiving his BA in Economics and Masters in Planning and Community Development in Denver, CO, Jim spent most of his planning career working for the City of Bowie in Maryland from where he retired in 2003. After working for the City of Gilbert for a few years, Jim accepted the position of Planning Director with the City of Flagstaff in 2005. Jim’s skill as a negotiator, manager, and leader resulted in many positive changes in the City’s planning department. Jim retired from Flagstaff in 2014.

Jim made a profound difference in the lives of the many people who were fortunate to work with him and to know him. Text messages received yesterday as word of Jim’s passing became known in Flagstaff, reflected how he had touched and inspired so many. Here a just a few. “Jim was kind, fair, diplomatic and well spoken,” “always had a smile and a positive word–each and every day.” “a mentor and good-natured colleague,” and a “stand-up guy and a great friend to many of us.”

At this time, Sally and her family are requesting that they not receive phone calls as it is too difficult for them. The family will likely plan a picnic remembrance celebration for Jim at the Community Park in Anthem when the weather is cooler, the specific details of which will be posted through the Arizona Planning Association.

Jim’s legacy will carry on through the people he influenced and led by the example of his life. The planning world is surely a little dimmer without his bright light. We will miss him.

Roger Eastman, AICP
Arizona Chapter, American Planning Association

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September 2020