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.



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

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.

Favorite Things

Dad, what are some of your favorite things you’ve done with your children?

Chad and Ryan contemplate another dip in the Deschutes near White Horse Rapids

Rafting the Deschutes

Central Oregon is a high desert, greened by rivers beginning on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains. The Deschutes River runs northward from South of Bend to the Columbia River. Below the dams, at Warm Springs, the Deschutes runs free, delighting fishermen and boaters.

I had discovered the bliss of river boating in the mid-1970s when I joined a group for teen boys and dads led by Gary LaRue and Homer Ames at the Beaverton Christian Church. This program was noteworthy because boys and their dads were invited to build eight-foot wooden prams from kits sourced from a river rat who had started a similar program in Idaho. Chad wasn’t old enough and Corina wasn’t eligible because of her gender. I enjoyed the river boating so much that I wanted to share the activity with my children.

After I left our family home in 1985, I fell in with some people who had taken an interest in counseling and personal growth. My closest friends (Sherry Downs, George Celia and Peggy O’Brien) were in the Quest Fellowship, started in the 1970s by Dale Jamgaard of Lutheran Family Services. Some of us were enthusiastic about river rafting and we began planning a Deschutes River trip each year. We depended on Mark Snead, who owned a rental company in Beaverton. Snead Rentals had some repurposed surplus life rafts with homemade wooden frames for river boating.  Mark was indeed our leader, though some of us might have different ideas about how to raft the river.

On at least a couple of our large group rafting trips, I planned ahead for Chad and Corina to fit these into their summer schedules. Large group trips were complicated, with plenty of room for interpersonal conflict and disagreements about what to do and how to do it. Nevertheless, I remember them for the warm interaction among friends and the opportunity to introduce my offspring to my new friends.

Chad, Ryan, Peg, Reese, and Corina hiking to the rimrock for a different view of the River

Had I gotten the fly fishing bug, I could have tried to indoctrinate my offspring into that splendid sport. But it was enough to take a hike through the rimrock to view the river from far above and become genuinely weary for sleep.

Favorite Memories

Dad, what is one of your favorite memories of being a dad?

Beach weekend at Lincoln City

Mother delighted me with reading stories as a child, and I was eager to continue this with Corina and Chad. Linda or I read to the children almost every night. I enjoyed discovering new authors of that time, such as Richard Scarry, Dr. Seuss and many more. I loved this close, shared enjoyment, especially at bedtime.

I dreamed a lot about doing outdoor recreation as a family, including rugged things like hiking and backpacking. To this end I studied the REI catalogs incessantly and bought lightweight gear, even a miniature backpack and sleeping bags for kids. On September 28, 1975, when Linda was on a women’s retreat, Corina, Chad and I drove out past Estacada and backpacked three miles to Serene Lake. Chad was only two and needed to ride on top of my backpack. Corina was easily able to walk the trail, but was frightened by the dense forest and gathering dusk. I probably said, “It’s just a little ways further” twenty-five times to coax her onward. What a relief to finally arrive at the lake, and I started a fire and set up the tent. Then I had two warm and happy campers who played in the tent while I heated a backpacker style dinner.

In reality, most of our outdoor recreation took place in the city and at the beaches in Lincoln City and Cannon Beach. Corina, Chad and Linda were all enthusiastic beach walkers, surf waders, and sand sculptors. Grammee Thelma loved the beach so much that she often rented an apartment for a whole season, giving us another reason to visit the beach more often. Trips to the beach usually involved staying indoors at a motel or cabin since the Oregon Coast is often too windy, wet and cold for outdoor camping.

I was enamored with science fiction from childhood reading. In 1977, the first of the Star Wars space opera movies opened. These movies were instantly popular and I wanted to see them right away, on opening night if possible. I believe that the whole family went for the original Star Wars, and that Linda and Corina’s interest quickly waned. Chad and I became steadfast Star Wars moviegoers. Chad also became a collector of Star Wars toys; I quietly encouraging his collection on gift-giving occasions. He created a memorable Luke Skywalker costume from a dad-sized t-shirt, waist band, and plastic light saber.

Becoming a Father

Dad, what was it like to become a father?

Eagle Creek trail with Corina in 1972

Linda and I were 21 and newlyweds when Corina was born. It was exciting and fun for me to have a baby girl. Fortunately, I found employment immediately after graduation and we moved to a nicer apartment in Beaverton. We fell into stereotypical gender roles where I commuted to work in Portland each day and Linda stayed at home in the apartment with Corina. We joined the Christian Church and began to make a few friends, but we did not have a close-knit community, nor any extended family nearby. It should not have been surprising that Linda developed what looked like serious postpartum depression. She was isolated with an infant for many hours each day, without supportive friends and an outlet for her creativity. I tried to make a point of helping with baby care during evenings and weekends, but my participation in feminine tasks like cooking, cleaning, laundry and baby care weren’t as enthusiastic and helpful as they should have been.

Linda found a job as a Memorial Coliseum usherette, a job that combined entertainment with helping people. This proved to be a relief valve that lifted her depression. I enjoyed doing baby care while Linda was away and was grateful that she came home enthused about the events.

After several months in Beaverton we rented a house in West Slope and began planning how we might purchase our first house. In the rental house, Linda practiced home decorating and I did house and yard maintenance. Everything was done on a restrictive budget because of our limited income. Corina did well in the house in West Slope, playing with our cat named dee-dat, riding her trike, pushing her dolly stroller in the pretty, grassy yard, and arranging her girl toys in her bedroom.

When Corina was between two and three, I found that being a parent sometimes comes with urgent care responsibilities. Corina had become ill, and was running a fever, which we assumed was not dangerous. Linda carefully prepared a dinner and we were eating it when Corina went into involuntary jerking movements in her high chair. I had never witnessed a seizure before. I asked Linda to call emergency help at Kaiser while I carried Corina into her bedroom. It seemed that Corina was having trouble breathing, and I felt panic. I shouted to Linda, “Call the ambulance!” as I pushed my finger into Corina’s mouth and moved her tongue aside to free her airway. From the phone, Linda called, “They say, put her in a cool bath.” I drew tepid bath water and rushed back to Corina’s bedroom, carrying her to the bath. She cried and shivered as I lowered her into the water. After a few minutes I felt it was safe to move her back to the bed and dress her in pajamas. Moments later, emergency responders arrived and counseled us to drive slowly and carefully to the emergency room. She was admitted and remained at Bess Kaiser for two nights with an infection of the Roseola virus.

After the episode of fever seizures, we filled a prescription for phenobarbital to avoid a repeat. Corina was very willful as a child; she hated the taste of phenobarbital and refused to swallow a dose of it. I spanked her bottom to overcome her refusal to swallow it down one time, and felt sad and guilty for that. My father had punished me with spanking, ear thumping, and even kicking me as a child. Unfortunately, I was beginning a pattern of treating my children in the same humiliating and infuriating way that I had been treated.

When my family was still very young, all of the parents at the Christian Church were encouraged to take “Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts” presented by Bill Gothard. Along with hundreds of other young parents, we filled large auditoriums at the Memorial Coliseum, where we received lengthy lectures regarding Bill’s scripture-based insights on family life and child rearing. One of the more egregious instructions Bill taught was “discipline your child to break their will, not break their spirit.” In other words, don’t hesitate to punish your child to the point of fearful compliance, but don’t punish them to the point of ruining their mental or physical health. I regret not walking out on this series on the first day, since it encouraged corporal punishment with Corina. Fortunately, by the time Chad was old enough to be willful and rebellious, I had learned enough to believe that corporal punishment was a terrible idea.

Linda and I agreed on two children, no more than two, spaced close enough so that they could more easily bond with each other. Chad was born 4 years and three months after Corina. Linda seemed to have a much easier time with the second child, both physically and emotionally. We were striving towards a mutually-desired goal and she had more social support. It was a delight seeing four-year-old Corina “mothering” her little brother. Chad was also a contented baby, healthy and strong.

I was delighted to have a child of each gender and thought that it was the perfect combination. Despite their genders, I expected the two children to be more similar than different. But Corina liked girl toys and Chad liked boy toys, instinctively it seemed. Corina was more assertive and willful, while Chad was more gentle and cooperative. Corina was harder to guide in things like social etiquette and table manners. We didn’t worry much about thumb sucking, but I got worried about nose picking after the kids were in school. I got a jar of flavored multivitamins and told Corina that these were pills that stopped nose picking. She was willing to take the pills, but didn’t find them helpful for nose-picking. Not long afterward, a wiser parent accurately advised, “Don’t worry about nose-picking — it will go away when she becomes interested in boys.”