One month before the tragic murder of NYS Trooper Andrew "AJ" Sperr, on March 1, 2006, he and his good friend and neighbor, Skip Drake, volunteered to help Carley Crooker trim a stately old stand of sugar maple trees on the Crooker homestead. The three men spent several days cleaning up the trees lining both sides of the road known to locals as Maple Ridge, and he nearly finished in the days before Trooper Sperr was killed.
One tree, immediately opposite the Crooker home, had been struck by lightning some time earlier. The men had taken part of the tree down, leaving the remaining ten feet of trunk standing for another day. That day never came. To pay tribute to a wonderful man and friend Carley left the remaining trunk of the tree in place and installed a bronze plaque in memory of Trooper Sperr inscribed:
In Loving Memory
New York State Trooper
Andrew J. Sperr
March 1, 2006
It wasn't until a year later that Trooper Sperr's family became aware of the memorial as a result of chance meeting with a neighbor of the Crookers. The neighbor took them to see the plaque and meet the Crookers. Upon arriving Trooper Sperr's father was surprised to recognize the farm. He realized that he had hunted Canada Geese on it in years past and the man who owned the farm, known only as Carley to him, had been a friend of his son had placed the plaque on the tree.
Carley and his wife, Jan, have since moved to a newly built house near the old homestead. A suggestion that the "Carley Crooker Tree" be moved to the Sperr Memorial Park was recently acted on and the entire trunk, plaque, and weather cap were transported to the park. It holds a place of honor amongst the several other benches and plaques dedicated to NYS Troopers who have given their lives in the line of duty since AJ's death.
The Story of the Carley Crooker Tree
Carley & Jan Crooker with Jean & Andy Sperr
Talisman Energy Donates Funds For Trees
Talisman Energy USA, Inc. (located in Big Flats, NY) was solicited back in the Spring of 2011 to be a sponsor for the 3rd Annual Time To Sperr run/walk at Sperr Memorial Park on August 27, 2011. Instead of being a sponsor for the event Talisman decided to make a direct donation to the park. The Park committee was asked to submit a request for donation for a specific project. The committee decided to ask for funds to purchase 15-20 trees to create a natural fence at the west end of the park (on Lowe Rd) near the storage garage. Talisman agreed, donated $2,000 and the trees were purchased through Davis Garden Center in Big Flats. On Friday October 21, 2011 committee members from the park, four Talisman Energy employees as well as Town of Big Flats officials came together and planted the trees. Just five years since the dedication of the park in September 2009 local businesses and volunteers continue to support honoring the memory of Trooper Andrew J. Sperr at Sperr Memorial Park.
Listed in the photo from left to right: Teresa Dean (Town of BF Supervisor), Larry Wagner (Town of BF Public Works Dir), Matt Tice (Talisman Energy), David Whedbee (Talisman Energy), Lance Ridall (Talisman Energy), Calvin Walker (Talisman Energy), Mike Hess (Sperr Memorial Park Committee/Ret. NYSP), Blake Shields (Volunteer), Chris Shields (Sperr Memorial Park Committee/NYSP).
Thanks to all who came out May 11, 2014 & helped with sprucing up the park!
By BILL FOLEY
“I want to keep his memory alive,” said big block car owner Jim Maier.
This weekend the “memory” of New York State Trooper A.J. Sperr will be emblazoned into the memory of race fans at Super Dirt Week.
Nine years ago Trooper Sperr was killed in the line of duty, but Jim Maier has a place in his heart for a man who wasn’t only a law enforcement officer, but a very, very close friend.
The state police colored 31M will be in big block competition with Jimmy Maier behind the wheel. The Maier’s field a regular mount at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park, but the family really wanted to do something special for this weekend.
Pilat Graphics created and produced the art work on the machine and it will definitely stand out at the Moody Mile.
Jim said, “A.J. worked for us on our farm (H.A. Farms) from the time he was 14 years old until he graduated from high school.”
You can tell that memories of A.J. are still very much alive in Maier’s mind. He said, “I had this idea for some time, but decided this was the weekend to do it and put him in front of the crowd.”
Maier vividly remembers the details of the death of the trooper.
He explained, “It was nine years ago and A.J. was shot in Big Flats. Two guys had robbed a bank and he pulled them over. They came out shooting and as he was backing up he was hit under his vest and later passed away.”
Maier said of Sperr, “He was a super nice guy who loved the outdoors and hunting. “ It was obvious that Maier missed him.
This weekend the 31m with a motor prepared by Tom Maier and hopefully will garner one of the berths in this year’s 200 to put A.J. Sperr in front of thousands of race fans on Sunday afternoon.
Fallen NYS Trooper Remembered by Maier Racing
Lots was done and the park looks beautiful!