Noted structural engineer William ‘Bill’ Crouch dies at 79

April 07, 2000
Santa Paula News
William “Bill” Crouch of Santa Paula, a highly respected structural engineer, died Tuesday, April 4, 2000 at the Rehabilitation Institute of Santa Barbara from complications of heart bypass surgery. He was 79 years old. Although in failing health in recent years, Bill continued his profession from his Railroad Avenue office, which he established in 1962.Born Feb. 21, 1921 in Washington D.C., William Dudley Crouch moved with his parents to Reseda, CA. when he was three years old.He met his future wife, Eleanor Denham, at Canoga Park High School. “I was a year behind him,” said Eleanor.Bill played “a very fine trombone and I played a squeaky clarinet” in the band, she added, but they made beautiful music together.In 1942 Bill graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in structural engineering. He and Eleanor were married the same year, just days before he received a Navy commission. He was a combat veteran of World War II, serving as a Lieutenant Commander in the South Pacific, and was called back to duty during the Korean War.The Crouches moved from Woodland Hills to Santa Paula in 1955 so Bill could join the prestigious architectural firm of Wilson, Stroh & Wilson. “My dad had told Bill that he knew an architect in Santa Paula that might be able to use him,” said Eleanor. Structural engineers were rare and Bill had been commuting into Los Angeles to work; the move to Santa Paula was welcome, she added.After Bill opened his own business, “It was so neat to have him just down the hill,” said Eleanor. “He used to call me and ask if I’d like to come down and have tea in the afternoon.”Bill’s projects read like a map of Ventura County, said his friend Carl Barringer. “We were lucky to have him in Ventura County as a structural engineer; Bill was highly qualified and recognized by the state as a leader in the field.” His projects included St. Sebastian Church, First United Methodist Church (where Bill was an active member), the boys’ gym at Santa Paula High School, a Ventura Housing Authority facility that for years was the tallest building in the city, and many schools throughout the county, among many others.Barringer said his friend had a “real sly sense of humor, was a great guy, very straight and honest.”Bill’s sense of humor was publicly evident: Eleanor, elected to the City Council in 1975 and a two term mayor, once rode in a parade in a rickshaw pulled by her proud husband.
Bill’s career was meant to be, said Eleanor. “He liked solving problems.”Donna Landeros, city manager of Ventura, said a teacher and circumstances fostered her father’s interest. “His love of engineering started in elementary school with a teacher who identified Dad as exceptionally bright in math took an interest in him and started coaching him in engineering.” The elementary school Bill attended was hard hit by an earthquake and was condemned, so students made do in tents for several semesters.“He was just somebody very special both to his family and friends,” who learned to fly at age 45, was a pioneer sailboarder and waterskier and enjoyed woodworking in his own shop, she added.Along with his family, his profession remained a passion. “He was working just two months ago. . .he never intended to retire, he just loved it, he never wanted to quit.” Landeros noted. “A few years ago he got a call from the state licensing bureau wanting to know if someone was plagiarizing his license. . .his number was probably one of the first in the state.”“He was an interesting combination that made life very interesting,” said Eleanor. “He was very conscientious. . .anything he was doing for the family or business he took very seriously. And he loved Santa Paula.”Aside from Eleanor, Bill is survived by sons Tom Crouch, Dan Crouch and Bob Crouch, and daughters Donna Landeros and Janet Mills; 10 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.Services will be held Saturday, April 8 at 11 a.m. at First Methodist Church of Santa Paula.The family has requested memorial gifts to Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, Blanchard Community Library, First United Methodist Church, or the Ventura Pier Foundation to purchase a bench facing the islands where the family spent many happy times together.

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