A welcoming site dedicated as memorial to Marshall Crouch, its first director

LAKE BROWNWOOD — The site chosen for a memorial to Marshall Crouch at the Texas 4-H Conference Center at Lake Brownwood is quite appropriate, officials said Wednesday during a dedication ceremony.

“Welcome to YOUR Texas 4-H Center,” Preston Sides, former executive director of the Texas 4-H Foundation and assistant director emeritus of Texas Cooperative Extension, said as he opened the ceremony.

“A warm greeting is essential to making people feel welcome, and the person we honor here today was a master at doing just that,” he said.

Sides, a longtime friend of the Crouch family who served as master of ceremonies, explained why his opening statement for the dedication emphasized the word “your.” He wanted those attending from as far away as Colorado to feel as welcome as they would be if Crouch could have been there himself.

Later, Dr. Doug Steele, director of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in College Station, suggested that Crouch was indeed present in spirit.

Crouch was the state 4-H center’s first director, and served in the position from 1974 until his retirement in 1989. The facility opened in 1975.

“We stand surrounded by the result of a dream fulfilled,” Sides said.

Mark Carroll, the 4-H conference center’s current director, pointed out that the memorial’s location is between sidewalks linking the administration building with three flagpoles. Campers start their days by meeting their counselors at the flagpoles, he said, and it’s at the last area where they are together before the day ends. In the hours between, “They have lots of fun and we hear lots of laughter” as they enjoy recreational activities in the nearby open lawn.

Some of those campers, Carroll said, will no doubt notice the marker placed in memory of Crouch and ask someone about his legacy. The shaded landscaped area will feature the marker.

Thinking back to Crouch’s 15-year tenure at the center, Carroll said, “Thousands of kids who came through here all have a story to tell about Marshall.”

During his dedication remarks, Steele said Crouch was a man of vision, passion and integrity.

“Marshall is with us in spirit,” he added, and the location overlooking Lake Brownwood “is a testimony to his love of the outdoors… it is great that the Extension Service can honor someone like Marshall.”

Sides credited Ann Crouch-Noble of Blanket, Crouch’s daughter, as having recently revived the project after a fund was initially established following Crouch’s accidental death in 2007.

In her remarks, she said her parents talked a lot about family, and that when she thinks about 4-H and its friends, “that resounds with the word ‘family.’ I’m so proud I’m part of the family that developed the 4-H Center.”

The center operates year-round, but is busiest in the summer hosting a variety of 4-H programs and other life skills development activities. But it is also available for use for business and governmental conferences, family and class reunions, team-building camps and meetings, with food service and lodging available.