In Memoriam: Ina “Sue” Crouse (June 25, 1933 – May 20, 2021) William “Bill” Crouse (Jan. 19, 1928 – July 8, 2021)

August 2021 Posted in Uncategorized

William “Bill” Crouse was born Jan. 19, 1928 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of four and the last to pass. Ina “Sue” Crouse was born at home on June 25, 1933 in Hayworth, Oklahoma. She was the oldest of five and the last to pass.

At the age of 17, Dad persuaded his parents to let him “drop out” of High School to enlist in the US Marine Corps. He served seven years in multiple duty stations including China and Korea. He was honorably discharged in 1952 as a Staff Sergeant. He returned home, contacted his High School principal, who then proctored his High School Diploma tests. He passed with ease. From there, he headed to Oregon.

Mom would grow up working in the fields with her parents. In Texas and Oklahoma they hoed, picked and chopped cotton. In California, they cut and trayed grapes in the sun for raisins. In Oregon and Washington, they picked apples, cherries, and apricots. They lived in tar paper shacks with dirt floors. In 1934 her brother L.C was born. After that, Mom always shared her bed with at least one little brother. In the winter, Mom and her parents would return to Oklahoma to their Cox and Pope families. Mom loved living in the family fold with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and truck loads of cousins. In Oklahoma, she attended a tiny one room school where a spark was ignited and her passion for learning burned, until her final days.

In the fall of 1952, Mom and Dad met in Klamath Falls while attending OTI and as they say, the rest is history. In the spring of 1953, Mom moved to Salem where her parents had purchased their first home. A small three bedroom, one bath on Verda Lane. Once again, Mom still shared a bed with a little brother; this time it was Bruce. Mom found work at Fairview Home caring for the hydrocephalic babies. It was heartbreaking work but she was built for the important task. Dad stayed at OTI to finish his degree and spent the summer working at Crater Lake. During this time they were saving and planning for a wedding.

On Oct. 22, 1954 they were married by Rev. Lloyd Uker at Englewood United Methodist Church in Salem. They became members and were active on committees, boards, and women’s ministries until 1971 when they moved to Silverton. In November 1956, they welcomed their first child, Mark, and brought him home to their first apartment.

Dad had begun his career as a journeyman carpenter while Mom stayed home with Mark. In March 1958, Mom’s dad and little brother Bill drowned while fishing in a small boat on Clear Lake. Mom, Dad, and Mark moved in with Grandma to help her recover emotionally and financially. Mom stayed home with Mark and brothers Phil and Bruce where she took care of everybody while Dad and Grandma worked. They remained there until all the funeral expenses were paid and Grandma had a small savings.

In August 1958 their daughter, Sandy, was born. The now complete Crouse Family moved into a rental; until they were able to purchase five acres in NE Salem and began to build their first home. Those were happy, busy years. Mom’s desire to teach was beginning to grow and her teaching career would soon take off. With permission from their Englewood church, Dad built cabinets on castors and small tables. Sunday School chairs were rearranged and the church basement became a private kindergarten. With the help of another church member, Mom and Betty Massey taught together for the next six years. They were recognized as the first accredited private kindergarten in the State of Oregon. During this time Mom also attended Chemeketa Community College; taking night classes to finish her associates degree and prepare for her future dream career.

In 1971, Dad and Mom sold their fruitland home and moved to a rundown, worn out, ramshackle old farmhouse on 25 acres in Evans Valley. We camped in the side yard while the foundation was being rebuilt and the house remodeled. Before the weather turned, we were out of the elements and living in our “new” old house. Then we built a barn! It was during this time of transition that Mom and Dad decided a new church needed to be founded. Patty Logan, a dear friend from Englewood, was now attending Emmanual Mennonite in Pratum. She invited us to come with her, and Mom and Dad remained there ever since.

After a few years in the old farmhouse, it was sold along with five acres and we moved to the “home on wheels” in a field at the top of the property. Mom was accepted into WOU and began the daily drive to and from Monmouth. While she studied long into the night earning honors, Dad was building their new house.

After graduating, Mom was hired to teach kindergarten and first grade at Evergreen School. Mom loved her students! Her days always started with coffee and her bible in the family room. Each student and their learning needs were brought before the Lord in prayer. She visited the homes of each kindergartner before the first day of school as she wanted them to know she was excited to know them, their families, and that learning together would be fun. In the early years, she also held her parent teacher conferences in the home at least once a year. She was grateful for her students and their families. Guiding and encouraging her students was her calling. She loved and cared for each one as her own. It was a wonderful and unique time in Public Education. It brought out the best in Mom and in turn, she brought out the best in her students. After 17 years, Mom retired from Evergreen but her heart never left.

When they retired, a whole new life began. For Dad it was all things rocks; rock shows, rock hounding, cutting and polishing rocks and making jewelry. For Mom there were sports. Football, basketball, volleyball, little league, dance competitions, and track meets. If Grandma was in the state, Grandma was in the stands.

Travel was a large part of their early retirement years. Road trips in their RV were a regular occurrence visiting all 50 states at least once. Camping trips with their family were also a staple and many trips to various Oregon lakes to fish, tell campfire stories and make lasting memories. Several trips to Australia were enjoyed, especially the one led by Portland State University where they traveled the “outback”. They visited many locations, sleeping under the stars, and mining for precious gems. They learned much about the country, the Aboriginal people, the unique wildlife, and geography. Mom climbed to the top of Ayers Rock with a 17-year-old German boy who was on holiday with his grandparents (the grandparents waited in the shade with Dad). Mom very much enjoyed that accomplishment and hiking companion. They exchanged Christmas cards for many years. They also spent time in New Zealand, New Guinea, Tahiti, and Fiji where they fell in love with it and her people.

Wherever they traveled, they would look for a church to attend. In Fiji, it was a small struggling Methodist Church trying to provide a Christian kindergarten, and they knew just what to do. Dad worked on building projects and repairs and Mom taught the students along with the teachers. They returned to Fiji multiple times to live and work; bringing books and school supplies with them. Even building a small library in memory of Mom’s mother, Annie Cox.

Their final foreign trip was a very memorable three week trip to China. Many memories came back to Dad and sharing the adventure with Mom was the highlight for him. In between the foreign travels were two riverboat trips; one on the Mississippi and one on the Ohio River. They also became snow birds and started spending their winters in Quartzsite, Arizona.

Together Mom and Dad were unstoppable, resourceful, creative, lifelong learners and voracious readers. They worked hard, played hard, and loved hard. With big smiles and hearts wide open, they gathered friends far and wide. They were kind and devoted to one another as well as their family. Their lives were lived by the Golden Rule and their faith.

Bill and Sue are survived by Mark (Lisa) Crouse, (Ray) Sandy Bersin, four grandchildren; (Joe) Marta Meling, Austin (Hollie) Bersin, Darrell Crouse, and (Justin) Bailey Barker. As well as great grandkids Jaxon Meling, Adilynn Bersin, and Baby Barker due in December.

While they had never planned to leave their home on the hill, declining health required a hard decision from Mom and Dad and they decided that staying together, to have and to hold was more important than where they lived.

Tithing and charitable giving was a monthly occurrence throughout their lives. A local favorite was Union Gospel Mission.

Our thanks go out to Heartwood Place Memory Care for helping us keep “the kids” together, Serenity Hospice for keeping them comfortable, and lastly Debbie, their partner in crime. Untold blessings were shared by all.

Dad lived without Mom for seven weeks to the day. Now they dwell in the House of the Lord, reunited. Ephesian 5:2 says: Live a life filled with love, and so they did. A private graveside memorial will be held on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021.

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