James Samuel “Tex” Crutcher, longtime business and community leader of Fort Scott, passed away July 26, 2018, in Springfield, Missouri.
He was born February 1, 1929, on a cotton farm and cattle ranch outside of McKinney, Texas, second oldest in a family of 11, the son of Joe Louis Crutcher and Nell (Gilbert) Crutcher.
Crutcher graduated from McKinney High School in 1948, a standout player on the state championship-winning football team. He was recruited to play for Pittsburg State University, then known as Kansas State Teacher’s College, where he played at the position of tackle from 1948 to 1949.
After a stint working in the oil fields of West Texas, Crutcher was drafted into the Army in 1951. After basic training in Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, Crutcher deployed to Tokyo where he served as an MP guarding a U.S. supply base during the Korean War.
Crutcher returned to Pittsburg after an honorable discharge in January 1953, where he went back to school and played football for two more years under legendary Kansas coach Carney Smith.
He married Audrey Elaine (Golden) Crutcher November 25, 1953, in Pittsburg, Kansas, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in physical education. He earned a Master’s degree in education in May 1955.
Crutcher taught science and history and was assistant coach of football, basketball, baseball and track at Columbus (Kansas) High School from 1955 to 1958.
In 1958, Crutcher and his family, which now included son Greg and daughter Kim, moved to Garland, Kansas to help manage the Golden Farm and cattle operation with his father in law Walter B. Golden. Crutcher continued farming but moved to Eddy Street and later East National Avenue in Fort Scott where the farm and ranch operation was headquartered
In the late 1960’s, while still farming, he took a job at Fort Scott Junior High School as coach and teacher of physical education, where he was influential in the development of many outstanding young athletes.
Crutcher began his long career with Citizen’s National Bank when, in 1970, he was recruited to become agricultural loan officer there. He went on to serve as president and chairman of the board. Under his leadership, the bank opened branches in Pittsburg, Mound City, and Iola. He oversaw the first automatic teller machines at Citizens Bank, as well as the first ATMs on the campus of PSU.
Crutcher officially retired from the bank in 1994 but continued to serve on the board of directors and keep an office there. In his retirement, he established and managed a popular travel club for seniors called Funseekers for another 20 years until he was 85. The group traveled regionally and to countless destinations around the world.
Crutcher was also respected for his civic and professional engagement. He served on the board of directors of the Kansas Bankers Association for years, representing the 17 counties in Southeast Kansas. He was a longtime member of the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, served on the Bourbon County Economic Development Council and on the board of the Bourbon County Soil and Water Conservation District, as well as the board of trustees of Fort Scott’s United Methodist Church. Additionally, he was an instrumental force in fundraising efforts for the initial development of the new Mercy Hospital.
Crutcher was elected to the school board of Unified School District 234 and served for eight years. His tenure saw much change, including the building of a new wing to Fort Scott Senior High School. He also served for six years as president of the alumni association at Pittsburg State University.
On a state level, he was active over a three-year period in the early 1970s in helping to craft reclamation laws regulating the strip mining of coal, which he regarded as a central economic and agricultural issue for Southeast Kansas. His efforts were successful but were later superseded by more comprehensive federal legislation, which he welcomed.
Crutcher and his wife Audrey moved to Springfield, Missouri in June 2015, in order to be closer to their daughter.
Survivors include his wife Audrey of Springfield; daughter Kimberley Hart and her husband James of Willard, Missouri; a son, Greg Crutcher, of Albuquerque, New Mexico; three grandsons, Aaron Hart and wife Kristi of Jefferson City, Missouri; Justin Hart and wife Sarah and Tyler Hart and wife Kayla of Republic, Missouri. He is also survived by seven great-grandchildren: Trysten, Mason, Grayson, Abe, Remington, Viv and Marion James.
Additionally, he is survived by sister-in-law Bernita Hill and nephew John Hill, both of Fort Scott and Robb Hill of Des Moines, Iowa. In Texas, Crutcher is survived by brothers Paul DeWitt Crutcher, William Donald Crutcher, Diane Margaret Crutcher and Judy Jane Crutcher and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at 11:30 AM Monday, July 30th at the First United Methodist Church.
Burial with military honors will follow in the U. S. National Cemetery in Ft. Scott.
The family will receive friends from 3 to 5 P.M. Sunday at the Cheney Witt Chapel.
Memorials are suggested to either the First United Methodist Church of Ft. Scott, the LIVE Church of Republic, Missouri or the Ft. Scott Community Foundation and may be left in the care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, 201 S. Main, P.O. Box 347, Ft. Scott, KS 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at cheneywitt.com.