Marty Crouch 1947 – 2017

Marty Crouch was an electrical engineer, a manager, a life coach, an entrepreneur, a husband, a father, a friend, and a lifelong learner. He lived with metastatic melanoma for the last four years of his life. He died in his home on September 11, 2017 at age 70.

Marty was born July 1st, 1947, the first child to Harold and Grace Crouch who uprooted themselves from the Great Plains of Western Kansas to settle in Douglas County, Oregon.

Marty grew up on a 350-acre farm along Calapooya Creek between Umpqua and Sutherlin. During his childhood, he was known to most as “Martin,” later adopting “Marty” while attending college at Oregon State University to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

The oldest of four Crouch children, Marty recalled of his childhood on the farm, “We roamed the fields, hills, trees and the creek-side.” His love of the outdoors proved to be an overarching theme in his life. He developed an ear for music, graduating from accordion to trumpet to electric guitar in his youth, only to return to accordion late in life. He retained an extraordinary sense of pitch, correctly identifying, by ear, the notes of wind chimes and other sounds in his last days.

Marty met his first wife, Linda, during his junior year at OSU. They were married in 1968 and had their first child, Corina, in 1969. After graduation, Marty took a job as an electrical engineer with the Bonneville Power Administration and the young family moved to Beaverton, where they worked with a contractor to build their first home—Marty doing the electrical work and assisting with other trades—near Beaverton Christian Church, where they attended. Their second child, Chad, was born in 1973.

The family soon moved to Bull Mountain, on the fringe of Tigard, Oregon, in 1977. This afforded the rural-raised couple a semi-pastoral setting with access to the well-regarded suburban school district. Marty designed and drafted the house based on the Saltbox Colonial architecture the couple grew fond of during a vacation to Cape Cod in the early seventies, again plying his skills and labor toward completing construction.

Marty was mechanically inclined and independent, performing most automotive repairs and home & garden improvements himself. Marty’s personal interests included photography, computers, backpacking, cross-country skiing, kayaking, and running. In the late seventies and early eighties, a promotion within BPA to a management position coincided with an increased interest in running.  Marty could often be found jogging long distances along the narrow roads where housing developments cropped up between working farms.

Following a separation that ended in divorce in 1987, Marty began a multi-year period of seeking personal growth. He completed a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Lewis & Clark College, participated in various self-enrichment organizations and programs, and, in his words, “As years passed, I found a deeper interest in the Unitarians and the Buddhists.” In this timeframe, he also took up mountain climbing and downhill skiing.  He summited many peaks in the Pacific Northwest Cascades, and remained a member of the Mazamas Mountaineering Organization for the remainder of his life.

Marty moved from Vancouver to the Hollywood District of NE Portland in 1995. He met his second wife, Eddy, while attending the Living Enrichment Center. Together, they taught relationship classes at the center, and, in the autumn of 1996, they were married.

After taking an early retirement from BPA, Marty jump-started a new career as a business and life coach. He soon pivoted to a more technically-minded role of providing teleconferencing and Internet services for professionals in the coaching field, eventually expanding his business, WebValence, to include his wife and seven independent contractors to serve a broadening client base.

Marty and Eddy found a lasting home at Multnomah Friends Meeting, a Quaker spiritual community, and formally became members of the Religious Society of Friends. Marty served on the Property Committee and clerked the sub-committee for the Friends’ remodel of the meeting house at 4312 SE Stark St. He also served on the Peace and Social Concerns Committee.

Marty always wanted to leave his corner of the world better than he found it. Never was this more literally true than when, upon receiving notice from the City of Portland to repair cracks in the sidewalk, he chose to, at considerable cost, completely remove and replace the original concrete to provide almost 200 linear feet of safe, handsomely-crafted sidewalk for future generations outside of Marty and Eddy’s home on the corner of NE 44th and Thompson, and at their rental home on the corner of NE 42nd and Thompson. Marty cherished the Hollywood District for its walkability.

Marty’s desire to effect positive change in his community carried on after relocating to the Hillsdale neighborhood of SW Portland in 2007. Marty advocated for street improvements, modified his home’s landscaping to become an Audubon Certified Backyard Habitat, volunteered to nominate heritage trees, and, with Eddy, invited neighbors into their home for study groups on various topics close to their hearts.

One of Marty’s chief concerns for present and future generations was climate change. His response was thoughtful, proactive, and personal. Among his many commitments to personally making a difference was installing a solar array to provide all the electric energy used for both household needs and electric car charging. As a conscious consumer he was ever mindful that voting happened with dollars as well as ballots.

Marty was diagnosed with stage one melanoma in the early 1980’s. The lesion and neighboring tissues were removed with a wide area excision. He was diagnosed, for the second time, over 30 years later in 2013 with stage four melanoma with metastases in his central lymph nodes and lungs. He qualified for treatment in an IL-2 immunotherapy clinical trial and had a favorable response, allowing for an additional three years of largely symptom-free survival. Finally in 2017, a seizure revealed new metastases in Marty’s brain. He was treated with brain surgery, another immunotherapy regimen, stereotactic brain radiation, and, lastly, a targeted drug therapy. Throughout his treatment, Marty wanted his legacy to reflect his contribution to research efforts at finding a cure for others in the future.

Marty is survived by his wife, Eddy Marie Crouch, of Portland, OR, his daughter, Corina Kaul, of McGregor, TX, son, Chad Crouch, of Portland, OR, sister, Kathleen Pedersen, of Rice Hill, OR, brother, Glen Crouch, of Salem, OR, sister, Annette Harper, of Roseburg, OR, first wife, Linda Pickett, of Tigard, OR, and five grandchildren.

When a member of a Quaker meeting dies, the other members, family and friends gather for a Memorial Meeting for Worship. This memorial will take place on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 4PM at The Multnomah Friends Meeting House, located at 4312 SE Stark Street in Portland, Oregon. The Memorial Meeting for Worship will be followed by a reception.  All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, Marty requested that donations be made to Solar Oregon to support a clean energy future through the use of efficient technology and renewable energy.




Riverview Cemetery next to Angel Wall

At my Men With Cancer writers’ group of August 25th, the writing prompt was “Competition.” This is what I wrote:

We visited the Riverview Cemetery last week, Doyle and I. Truth be told, I dragged Doyle there with me. I’m a green burial plot owner, and I wanted to see my plot and its surroundings in the morning sun from the East.

Although the hour was early, a couple of parties were already at the site, evidently an early graveside service and a couple visiting a recently-interred loved one with their dog. I was also looking for a sign of completion — a sign that Eddy and I had completed the arrangements for a “final rest” in a good way.

I looked up the hillside and remarked to Doyle, “Look, a coyote loping through the midst of the people and their pets with such obvious self-confidence. You can always recognize a coyote — even if you don’t think you have ever seen one before. They are never frightened — just there, immune to danger and above the fray.”

Yes, I recognized my sign, the age-old sign of the trickster, the shape-shifting presence of the coyote. May he safely inhabit this place forever.

Worst Thing About Being Dad

Dad, what was the worst thing about being a dad?

Chad Crouch, 1987. Chad practicing his skateboard-coping-and-strenthening behavior, a testimony to his good judgement and wisdom in making skillful life choices.

“It’s not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to know
Find a girl, settle down
If you want you can marry
Look at me, I am old, but I am happy”

“I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy
To be calm when you’ve found something’s going on
But take your time, think a lot
Why, think of everything you’ve got
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not”

(Father and Son) by Cat Stevens

Separation is the worst part of being a dad, and it’s often at worst in the father-son relationship because of more frequent connection with traumatic events such as war, imprisonment, substance abuse, marital strife, and mental illness.

My own direct experience with traumatic father-son separation occurred when Chad was 14-years-old, as it accompanied marital strife in our family.

This strife started as my restlessness during midlife. This was accompanied by death fears from a 1985 melanoma diagnosis, and was catalyzed by the persistent thought: “I am not living my authentic self.”

Separation from a daughter is also the worst thing about being a dad, as it is fraught with “giving” a daughter to her betrothed. I remember Corina telling me, “Dad, our relationship has changed, Grant is now first man in my life and you and I won’t be together without him.”

Corina with Grant Kaul, 2003

Palliative Care

Calming Wheelchair

At Portland Providence Cancer Center, the Palliative Care office is staffed to provide relief from the pain and stress that accompanies being cast in the part of a person with cancer.

Palliative Care, unlike Hospice Care, encourages continuing treatment of causes and symptoms, while attempting to offer reduced stress, comfort, and relief from pain.

I was referred to Palliative Care by my oncologist on June 10th, and encountered more Change Happening Too Fast.

Continue reading Palliative Care

New Treatment Decision

Marty seated in his feckless wheelchair, “Mark,” resting for the week ahead.

I am fortunate to qualify for targeted melanoma treatment with two compounds useable on mutations expressed in my particular melanoma genome, especially since my recent treatment with Pembro was complicated by immune-related adverse effects, motor impairment and loss of personal mobility. Clinical trials have produced better-than-usual response rates, and this response is often experienced quickly, within days or weeks.

Of concern are a litany of serious side effects. Care teams like mine are developing techniques to help moderate side effects and tweak the treatments, especially at research hospitals like Portland Providence Cancer Center. Continue reading New Treatment Decision

Best Thing About Being Dad

What’s the best thing about being a Father?

Corina, Chad,Sheryl cook up a CRUSH IT DAYDinner on Marty's70 birthday at Gleneden Beach, Oregon.

Although fatherhood has many best things, far and away the finest is to have the great good fortune of winding up a father to adults who have become likable, admirable people, and whom I prefer to my own cohort.

Seeing my reflected character traits and values, developed and improved by their efforts and ingenuities, is astonishing.