By Glenn van Zutphen, former AAS President
(from left) Kat van Zutphen, Sally Hook, Bill Hook and Glenn van Zutphen at the Marine Ball, 2019
Bill and Sally Hook first joined the American Association in the early 1980s, shortly after he retired from a regional IBM job. “Before [retiring] I had a lot of work experience and projects around Asia and I found that very enjoyable,” says 93 year-young Bill. “I always loved working here and in other countries; people seemed responsive to me and what I was trying to do. This led me to really enjoy living in Singapore and being part of the community,” he adds.
The Hooks have been stalwart AAS members ever since, attending many events every year and even hosting the very popular AAS Tennis Tournament several years in a row. During one of the years that Robert Orr was US Ambassador (1989-1992), Bill mentions that he and Sally were asked by the AAS Executive Committee to dress up as George and Martha Washington for the annual AAS George Washington Ball. “We really had fun that year,” he says with a big smile.
In recent years, my wife Kat and I have had the privilege of getting to know Bill and Sally through AAS. Always a big smile, hug or a pat on the back, the Hooks warm up every room; he says that they’ve enjoyed the camaraderie that AAS has fostered in the community. “We really like the people and feel strongly about the professionally organized and very well-run AAS events. The Board does an excellent job,” Bill adds.
Bill’s book “Liberating North China-1945” – highlighted a number of years ago at our Holiday Book Fair – introduced our community to his World War II service as a Marine in the Pacific theater. Often giving away his book to those who showed interest, it set the stage for an interesting series of events this year: his return to, his first set of dress blues and his promotion to Sergeant at the Marine Corps Ball here last month Okinawa after a number of friends at the US Embassy petitioned the Corps, Department of Defense and the US Senate. He admits that initially he was not very excited about the opportunity to be promoted, saying he really didn’t think that he earned it. But he’s quick to point out how honored he was at the ceremony. “Getting promoted at the Marine Corps Ball was the single most enjoyable, rewarding experience of my life. The whole thing was unbelievably great. Everyone involved was absolutely super and I couldn’t have been more pleased. I’m so honored, I’m beside myself.”
One of Bill’s dearest friends for 44 years, Joan Stanbury, urged him to write his book and then edited it. She says his integrity is what stands out about him. “He’s just totally honest. He embraces everyone he meets and has a huge heart. That’s really the key to Bill. To see him recognized and treated as he was at the Marine Corps Ball, just made my heart burst. The winter of his life has been illuminated again by his association with the Marines; that’s a magical thing,” she exclaims.
Bill feels passionately that people should be true to themselves and have respect for others. “One of the joys that I have experienced in Singapore is the friendship that people have extended to me in my neighborhood, on buses… it’s just unbelievable. I encourage young people to be considerate of others, to be honest and to work hard.
That way of life for the Hooks has helped make them valued members of the American community in Singapore, of AAS and dear friends to the many who are lucky enough to know them.