By Austin Tyner
For years now, Ray Crouch, known to many as “Mr. Ray,” has been a friendly face on the grounds of Collegiate. As the Campus Mail Assistant, he in charge of delivering all the mail and packages around the school. He can be seen on any given day, riding around campus on his golf cart, and ensuring that Collegiate’s envelopes and boxes are all delivered to their recipients on time. Crouch is a favorite among faculty and students alike, and can often be seen chatting and joking with them in between deliveries. Upper School English Teacher and Match adviser Vlastik Svab says “Mr. Ray is always incredibly friendly and supportive, and he knows many of the kids’ names in Lower School, including my first grade son. He’s always ready with a high-five and a greeting for the little kids.”
A friend to all, Crouch is especially a favorite among Collegiate’s football players, many of whom had him as a football coach when they were younger, and still call him “Coach” when they talk to him. Eli Gee (‘21) says “Coach Crouch once said to me something that I always think about when I’m in the weight room: ‘It’s not about how much weight, it’s about how many reps.’” This kind of encouragement is just one of the many things that endear him to the Collegiate community.
Crouch is a Virginia native and grew up in Richmond’s West End. During his childhood, he learned from the examples set by his parents. His father was a Freemason, and his mother was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic organization. Due to their positive influence, he became interested in working with a Masonic organization as a young man.
Today, Crouch plays an active role in supporting the community through his involvement with Tuckahoe Lodge 347, which supports the Masonic Home of Virginia, a retirement community in Richmond’s East End.
Crouch is set to become Master of the Lodge on 2018. Crouch and other members do community service work, like blood drives. Crouch also works with the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center in Richmond, which provides services for children speech and auditory issues. Many of these children need hearing aids, and thanks to the generosity of this organization the hearing aids are provided at no cost to the families. “That’s the way it should be,” says Crouch.
His work reaches not only those in the Richmond area, but through his work with the ACCA Shrine Center here in Richmond, he also supports families in multiple states. The center supports Shriner hospitals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Greenville, South Carolina. Crouch says that the hospitals are free for all those who are receiving treatment, saying about those he helps, “You don’t meet them, and you don’t need to. It’s just rewarding, knowing you’re helping somebody.” He has also been helping drive patients and their families from Richmond to these Shriner hospitals.
Even with all the things he does for the people here at Collegiate, and outside it, Crouch stays very humble about his contributions to the community. About his selfless giving, he says, “It’s more blessed to give than receive. That’s what Jesus taught me to do, and that’s what I’m going to do.” He credits his wife of 45 years, Melinda, with bringing him happiness and supporting all that he does.
After nine years here at Collegiate, Crouch is set to retire in May 2018. He plans to spend more time with his three grandchildren, playing golf, and relaxing at his river house. He does not plan to slow down with his charitable work, saying that he and his Lodge still have “got a lot to do.”