Robert Lee Croucher
Robert Lee Croucher (Bob) quietly passed away Feb. 4 at the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls. Bob was born Sept. 16, 1925, in Libby to Ed and Ladessa Croucher.
He was the youngest of six children: Hazel Davis (Dunwebber), Howard Davis, Ellen Croucher, Gladys Croucher (Evans, Adams) and Frank Croucher. His father died when Bob was five and his mother married Bert Walbridge. Bob remembered Bert as his father. The family moved from Libby to Fowler, and Bob attended school in Libby, Conrad and Shelby. In 1943, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy and saw combat action in the western Pacific during the war. Bob was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
After the war, he returned to Montana and began his lifetime profession as a logger. In his lifetime, Bob worked in every aspect of the lumber industry, as a sawyer, equipment operator, small mill operator, teamster, truck driver, millwright, welder and mechanic. For a short time, Bob worked as a miner at a hydraulic gold mine in Alaska, where he discovered and brought back to Montana a mastodon tusk. It remains a family treasure to this day.
During his life Bob lived throughout the Pacific Northwest — Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Idaho — but always returned to his roots in Montana. Upon retirement he settled in the Flathead Valley, often travelling to Yuma, Ariz., during the colder months.
Bob was an avid sportsman with a passion for hunting and fishing. He never passed up on a chance to fish even after losing his eyesight in his 70s.
A favorite fishing memory of Bob and brother Frank occurred on Lake Koocanusa. Fishing was quite good with multiple hook-ups common. The brothers were very competitive over who was ahead in the fish count. Being blind, Bob could not see
Frank reach up and tug on Bob’s line, simulating a “bite.” Bob spent a lot of time reeling in without catching any fish.
One of Bob’s nephews caught on to what was happening and would sneak a fish out of Frank’s bucket and put it in Bob’s every time Frank pulled his little trick. Frank never did figure out how Bob caught the most fish.
Bob loved a good venison or fish dinner. It was known that he preferred fresh venison over frozen. Bob loved to dance. In the days that each small community hall had frequent dances, Bob was always in attendance. He seldom missed a dance and was known to travel long distances to find one. He also loved to play cards, particularly cribbage and pinochle, and never passed up a chance to take on all challengers.
Bob was preceded in death by his father, mother, all five siblings and wives, Jean (Bennett) and Mona (Sheldon). He is survived by his wife, Dorothy (Gillet); sons, Wally Bennett (Paula) of Columbia Falls and George Croucher of Libby; daughter, Beverly Bassett (Earl) of Deer Park, Wash.; nine grandchildren; and many great- and great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Bob was the patriarch of the Croucher family.
A memorial service will be conducted at the Montana Veterans Home, Chapel in Columbia Falls on Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home is assisting with funeral arrangements.