Carol Crouch keeps the family legacy alive

The Crouch family in the late 1970s (left to right): Debi, Charles, Keri, Carol, Suzanne, Mark, and Kevin.

William Oliver Thompson and Mary Ann Belinda Mullen were married in 1859 in Hazelnut, MI. The couple had ten children, their second son being Caleb Marshall Thompson. In 1876, William Thompson moved his family to Corsicana, TX, in Navarro County . As a young man, Caleb earned his teacher’s certificate and taught school, and during this time, he became friends with a fellow named Dan Kelly. This friendship would bring about a long-lasting impact on the community of Devine, TX, as Dan was a relative of the Redus family, who lived in the Devine area.
Meanwhile, Caleb married Miss Ray Crawford around 1887. In 1890, the couple traveled by covered wagon to Devine. In 1990, they built a home which stands today with the claim of being the oldest home inside the city limits. It is located at 108 S. Windy Knoll Dr., across the street from the Catholic Church. After being occupied by family for 82 years, it was sold, but it has recently purchased by Julie Campsey Key, daughter of Rick and Carol Campsey.
Caleb and Ray joined First Baptist Church in Devine where Caleb became an active member, served as church clerk, was ordained as a deacon, and taught Sunday school for many years. As a businessman, Caleb became associated with W.B. Adams, who was married to Nae Crawford, a twin sister of Caleb’s wife, Ray. The two men organized Adams Co., a mercantile business, and they also farmed on the vast amounts of land they had acquired. They also organized the Adams National Bank, withAdams acting as President and Caleb as Vice-President. After Adams passed away, Caleb became President as well as later becoming President of the S.J. Howell Company, a general merchandise business. Caleb also opened a store in Charlotte, TX.
After suffering from a lingering illness, Caleb’s wife, Ray, passed away and was buried at Devine. Later, Caleb married Miss Lizzie Lee Redus in the Baptist Church, Devine. The couple had six children: Charlie, Caroll, Florence, Gladys, and George. Then, on November 8, 1932, Caleb passed away suddenly.
Our story picks up with the marriage of Caroll Thompson and Margaret Hawkins. When her mother was in her early 40’s, Carol Thompson, an only child, was born – July 13, 1940. Because she was born late in her parents’ lives, Carol remembers her neighbor children all being older than she was. She fondly recalls the Briscoe family living across the road, and their children, Nancy, George, and Henry. Carol says that she often could be found visiting “Big and Big-Big”, whimsically recalling how they pampered her. Carol was also a lover of dogs – she has eight today, mostly strays – and could often be found in some hideaway with a dog in her lap.
Meanwhile, the Thompson ranch holdings grew. Carol remembers her father often saying, “They’re not making any more land.” Hence, he felt an obligation to purchase as much as he could. As a result, he acquired ranch land in Medina County off of what is known as Big Foot Road as well as in Frio and Atascosa Counties. He made his living ranching, and Carol grew up on the property where she resides today.
Carol fondly recalls attending her high school prom with Charles Griffin Crouch (Charles’ mother was Jewel Crouch, Arnold Griffin’s sister.) The two graduated from Devine in 1958. Carol then attended Baylor where she earned her degree in business, graduating in 1962. Charles attended Texas A&M and earned his Bachelor’s in 1962 as well, and, interestingly, his last two years of undergraduate work coincided with his first two years of veterinary school. He earned his DVM in 1964.
Meanwhile, following each other’s graduation, Carol and Charles were married in Devine on June 23, 1962. They subsequently resided in Bryan while Charles finished up his DVM, and Carol worked in the Bio-Chemistry Dept at the college.
Following his graduation, Charles owed two more years to the service – his first two years having been served while in the Texas A&M Corps – so, the couple moved to Burns Flat, OK. There, Charles was assigned to Clinton/Sherman AFB, a SAC base, where he was in charge of the sentry dogs. Along the way, the couple’s first child, Deborah Kay, was born – in May of 1963. The Crouch family moved back to Devine and Suzanne was born in Dec of 1965. Charles opened his renowned veterinary practice, Devine Vet, in early 1966.
Dr. Charles Crouch – Carol insists that everyone just called him Charles – was known for his competency and fair practices. He often failed to charge his clients, and when he did, he charged much less than what may have been expected. And because he was such a good veterinarian, he had a huge client base. He continued to serve Medina County and surrounding areas for twenty years. Then, on May 21, 1986, at the young age of just 46, Charles Crouch died suddenly of a heart attack. Carol reflects that although he died in a way he would have wanted, he wouldn’t have wanted to die so young.
But, Charles left behind a beautiful legacy, including five children: Deborah Kay (1963), Suzanne Elizabeth (1965), Lisa Lynn (1966 and passed away at a month old) Keri Leigh (1968), Kevin Todd (1970), and Mark Charles (1971) – all DHS graduates. And to further Charles’ honor, the family created a scholarship in his name: The Charles Crouch Memorial Scholarship. It was designated to be awarded to outstanding Ag-related students, and the first one was presented in 1987 to Vance Franklin Runnels.
As mentioned, Carol lives on the property where her father began his ranching interests. It is not the house in which she grew up, however. That house was eventually moved into Devine. Carol and Charles moved onto the property when they settled in Devine, and over time, as she remarks amusingly, they enlarged their house to accommodate their growing family!
Most noteworthy of Carol’s contributions to the community of Devine is the fact that she has been the primary organist for FBC Devine since her high school years! She, along with Sue Wood, who played the piano, played on Sunday nights, and this was back when the church was located where Hurley Funeral Home is today. Carol remembers walking across the street to take up her role on the organ when it was moved to the new building! When Carol married and left Devine, others filled in; but, upon her return, she and Anna Byrom eventually became the accomplished duo. Carol continues this tradition with Karen Bain.
Other interests Carol has enjoyed is membership in Devine’s Current Events Club and Garden Club and San Antonio’s Breakfast Club. The first two provide benefits to the community; the latter is merely social, Carol relates. She also enjoys travel. When Kevin was in the service and stationed in Germany, Carol, friend Cora Felts, and daughter Suzanne traveled there. Carol has also traveled to Ireland – where she has roots – accompanied by her good friend, Kathy Barber. Another memorable trip was with Keri and her family when they went to South Carolina and visited the Talbird Oak – a landmark which hails back to Carol’s Irish ancestry. Keri and her family often include Carol on their vacations, including a recent business trip to Boston.
Another contribution to the community is Carol’s children, all of whom graduated from DHS. Deborah (Debi) and husband Billy Campsey have four children: Carol Margaret Chavez (husband Michael) who have two beautiful girls, Ava and Hadley, Mary Clara, and twin sons William Lee and Charles Dean (wife Kaelyn Stacy). Debi was Elementary Music teacher for Devine ISD and taught private piano lessons until she became ill in 2003. For the next ten years or so, Carol nursed Debi in her home. Today, Debi is cared for in her own home by her daughter, Mary.
Suzanne Crouch Putz is retired from Zachry. She and her husband, Dicky, live in San Antonio. They have three children: Ethan, Sam, and Margaux.
Keri Crouch James worked for North East ISD before earning her PhD and now teaches at Wayland Baptist where she is an Assistant Professor. She and her husband, CJ, live in Devine. They have two children: Eli and Marshall.
Kevin Crouch oversees the family ranches, which have increased in size as adjacent lands have been purchased, and he lives on family property north of Great Oaks. He works for the San Antonio Fire Department.
Mark Crouch works in the housing market and lives in Coppell, TX, with his wife, Noel, and their son, Jackson.
Carol continues to be involved in her various clubs, and she is often the hostess of showers and birthday parties in her home as well as staying in touch with close and extended family members. And as the only heir of the family properties, she feels it is her duty to keep the ranch lands intact. She says that once she’s gone, it is up to her children to do with it whatever they choose. For now, she is keeping the Thompson/Crouch legacy alive.

By Kathleene Runnels