Born in Baltimore and raised in Oakenshawe, he attended the old Mount Washington School for Boys and SS. Philip and James School before graduating from Loyola High School in 1942. He earned a bachelor's degree at what is now Loyola University Maryland and was a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Law.
While in college he earned a pilot's license and enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He became a lieutenant commander and served in the South Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. He was also an aide to Adm. Chester Nimitz.
After the war, Mr. Crook practiced corporate law. He later joined the office of the city solicitor for Baltimore City. He worked in legislative affairs and wrote laws.
"He authored many of the bills presented for passage by the city's elected delegation to the Maryland State General Assembly and also performed analysis of all legislation proposed at the General Assembly for its effect upon Baltimore City's interest," said his daughter, Sarah Sandruck of Baltimore.
She said he was recruited by the Maryland attorney general's office to write the Comprehensive Alcohol and Controlled Drug Law that decriminalized alcoholism and coded it as a disease. The 1968 law also called for prevention and recovery programs.
In retirement, Mr. Crook earned a master's degree in liberal arts from the Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Crook enjoyed hunting and reading works related to the Civil War.
"He was a stickler about the appropriate use of a word, a habit that stood him in excellent standing for his wording of legislative matters," his daughter said.
Mr. Crook had been a member of the Hopkins, Engineers and Maryland clubs. He was on the board of the Tuerk House for many years.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, 2801 N. Charles St., where he was a member.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 61 years, the former Margaret Garvey; two sons, Stephen Crook of Baltimore and Andrew Crook of Ocean City; two other daughters, Courtney Dunn of Eldersburg and Jennifer Crook of Still Pond; a sister, Mary Washington Bergin of Charlottesville, Va.; and three grandchildren. A son, James R. Crook III, died in 1981.