In loving memory of Dr. Patrick Keith Crouch, DVM, aged 78 years, of Canadian, Texas. Pat passed away after a long and brave battle with cancer on March 14, 2019 in Canadian. He was a legend to those in the small panhandle community where he lived for six decades.
Memorial services will be held at 2:00 PM Saturday, March 23, 2019, at the First Christian Church in Canadian, located at 402 Purcell Ave, Canadian, Texas 79014, with the Rev. William D. Nix, Jr., retired Episcopal priest, officiating.
Following the memorial service, a wake in celebration of Pat’s life will be held at The Stumbling Goat, 217 S. 2nd Street, Canadian, Texas 79014, from 3:30-6:00 PM.
Patrick Keith “Pat” Crouch was born in Lufkin, Texas on September 18, 1940, along with his twin sister Patricia, to whom he remained close all his life. They were the only children of Elton Keith Crouch and Elizabeth O’Quinn Crouch. Pat’s father was an agronomist for Texas A&M and his mother was a school teacher. He often spoke of his mother, who died when Pat was in his 20’s. He used to say that the narrator’s voice in the classic film “To Kill A Mockingbird” sounded exactly like his mom, and it was one of the reasons he loved to watch the movie over and over again.
When he graduated from high school in Lufkin, Pat enrolled in Texas A&M, following in his father’s footsteps. It was at A&M where he spent some of his fondest moments, and he often told his children, relatives, friends and clients about his days spent as a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, Bugle Rank, where he played the piccolo and served as a Major, and of his service with the Ross Volunteer Honor Guard for Governor Price Daniel, and the Aggie Corps of Cadets. He was also a sophomore and senior class representative, and it was as an incredibly proud Aggie that Pat’s moral standards were reinforced: the principles of honesty and fairness, to influence the common good, to remain loyal, to respect the diversity of individuals and to help others without regard to personal gain. The unique spirit and traditions that made Texas A&M so special to Pat are deeply rooted in his experiences in the Band and the Corps.
After he graduated from the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine in 1964, Pat served in the United States Army Veterinary Corps as a Captain and was stationed in Okinawa and New Zealand during the Vietnam War. He also lived in Chicago and Iowa before settling in the beautiful little town of Canadian, Texas, in 1967. It was here that he met his first wife, Jane Bartlett, and they had two children together, Tiffany Elizabeth and Thomas Seth. Later he married Diane Jackson and they had two daughters, Kathleen O’Quinn, and Sara Pat. Believing third time is a charm, Pat married Bettie Lou Burk and they had two children, Elton Douglas and Callie Anne. For the last 22 years, Pat spent time with his longtime companion and love, Janie Nine Robertson. He was a member of the First Baptist Church, the Rotary Club, and served for eight years on the Hemphill County Hospital Board, including as president. Pat’s photographs fill the Hemphill County History Book.
During the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s—six decades—Pat was a selfless member of the community where he never turned a patient or client away. He always did his best to solve whatever mystery illness his patients might have, and it made him smile for days when he saved a patient’s life that had been hanging in the balance. He stood up for abused and neglected animals and testified in court against those who would starve or neglect them.
He treasured and was inspired by James Herriot’s book All Creatures Great and Small and his life seemed to follow one of the passages from the book: “If you decide to become a veterinary surgeon you will never grow rich, but you will live a life of endless interest and variety.”
He mentored other veterinarians who worked alongside him through the years, including his son Douglas, and veterinary students from around the world. The vet students often lived in Pat’s house while they worked with him. He was always ready to help anyone or any creature in need, treating animals from all walks of life, including dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, bobcats, raccoons, antelope, sheep, goats, turtles, birds, and even some of the two-legged variety who used to stop by at all hours of the day seeking his advice.
During all those decades in Canadian, Pat’s clinic was usually filled with people. Some of them dropped by every day just to say hello or have a cup of coffee and talk about whatever was on their mind. He had so many friends---in his last days on earth the Hemphill County Hospital had to post signs for “no more visitors” because the hallways were so full of old friends paying their respects.
Pat was a devoted veterinarian who never thought of his own health when he’d receive a call at midnight to run down to his Canadian Vet Clinic to treat a wounded dog who had been hit by a car or a horse with colic or a cow who needed a c-section to save her and the life of her calf. He always got up and hurried out the door. Even during his long and brave nine-year battle with cancer, Pat would take the time late at night, long after the doors were locked, to go down to the clinic to check in on his patients, possibly a dog who had a mysterious illness or had earlier survived a rough surgery. It weighed heavily on his mind when he had a suffering patient at the clinic, and he would spend hours poring over the Merck manual or other thickly-bound volumes of veterinary medicine to try and figure out what was wrong. Inevitably, he would lose some of his patients, as all veterinarians do, and this would weigh heavy on his heart.
When he was feeling low, Pat might call up a friend or loved one and invite them to go hunting or fishing. This tonic, as hunting and fishing were two of his great hobbies, would often work to lighten his spirit. He loved to hunt quail with his sons, Seth and Douglas, and with his nephews Kyle and Chris Toland, and he grew excited when he would find a hunting dog that he could take with him out to the many ranches where his friends would invite him to spend time. He spent decades fishing out at the Big Bull Ranch and taught each of his six children and three grandchildren how to fish. Occasionally in his younger years he would play golf with his brother in law, Ralph, or tennis with his daughter, Tiffany.
For many years, Pat kept a dark room in his vet clinic, where he would develop photographs of his patients, of bucolic country scenes in the panhandle or of his children, of whom he beamed with endless pride. He was fascinated by photography and film and spent hundreds of hours developing reels to include in his albums.
Pat also loved college football, namely the Texas A&M Aggies, and he would faithfully cheer them on every week during football season. For many years, his twin sister Patricia, who lived closer to College Station, would hold up her phone during halftime so that Pat could hear the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band play. He was so proud of the Aggie Band that he once yelled out while in attendance during a live football game to “Send in the Band!” because the team was losing.
Pat rarely got to travel much or go to places he’d dreamed about because he was devoted to his animal practice, his patients and his clients in Canadian. He missed out on many opportunities because he felt the town needed him, and so it did.
He had an infectious laugh, and he kept a catalogue of hundreds, if not thousands, of jokes in his head, which he loved to share with anyone willing to listen. He had a great appreciation for British humor and loved to watch British comedies such as The Vicar of Dibley and Doc Martin. He was also interested in politics and could debate anyone about the virtues or lack of ethics of a certain politician or group.
Pat loved to read. He was particularly interested in history and passed along that passion to several of his children. He could quote Winston Churchill, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Douglas MacArthur like a true professor. And like many a professor, he liked to drink to relax after a long day and had a special fondness for a good bottle of scotch.
He also loved to watch movies, and was a great fan of Cary Grant, John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day. He also never grew tired of watching some of his favorite films repeatedly, such as The Big Country, The Quiet Man, or Father Goose. For his children when they were young, he gave them Dot and the Kangaroo, an Australian film about a little girl who was lost in the outback and found solace in the pouch of a red kangaroo.
Over the years he employed many people to work for him at the clinic, from teenagers to those in their 70’s. He had so many loyal and devoted friends and employees, and those who remained with him for many years were very dear to him and close to his heart.
He spoke with incredible pride about his children, most of whom have advanced degrees, from JD to MBA to MA to DVM to NP to MLS and with whom he loved to share fond memories of his college and graduate school years, while listening to their stories about their own experiences.
For all of those lucky enough to have known Pat and spent time with him, perhaps even riding with him in the million miles he spent in his pickups out to remote ranch locations to investigate a sick cow or a horse that “wasn’t quite right,” they will remember forever his generosity, his patience and fortitude, his intelligence and his great sense of humor. He was truly one of a kind and will be sorely missed by all the many people who loved him.
Survivors include his 6 children: Tiffany Elizabeth Crouch Bartlett of Austin, Thomas Seth Crouch of Shallowater, Kathleen O’Quinn Crouch of Georgetown, Sara Pat Schmidt of San Antonio, Elton Douglas Crouch, DVM, of Canadian, and Callie Anne Crouch of Canadian; twin sister Patricia Toland and husband Ralph Toland and their sons, Kyle and Chris Toland of Missouri City; 3 grandchildren: Wyatt, Abriana & Olivia; longtime companion and love, Janie Nine Robertson; Jane Bartlett Brenner, mother of Tiffany & Seth; Diane Jackson, mother of Kathleen & Sara; Bettie Lou Crouch, mother of Douglas & Callie; Uncle: Paul Wiesling; Cousins: Danny Wiesling, Blake Wiesling & Kent Wiesling.
Flowers are welcomed, as Pat loved flowers and took pride in all the flowers he grew. He also loved helping sick animals, so for those who wish to make a donation in Pat’s name in lieu of flowers, please send it to an animal rescue organization, such as Doris Day Animal Foundation (www.dorisdayanimalfoundation.org) or Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (www.bestfriends.org) or to your favorite SPCA chapter.