Submitted by Tim Marsh, Lakes High Class of 1966.
It’s been more than 55 years since Nora McNerthney John was a Lakes High School student. She has never forgotten her favorite teacher at the school: Charles Croasdill.
He taught her journalism classes and was adviser of the ‘Lakes Ledger’ student newspaper of which she was co-editor.
“Mr. Croasdill’s dedication to teaching and his interest and respect for his students was genuine,” said John, who lives in Marysville.
“He gave me and other students opportunities to expand and test our self-confidence and knowledge and was a mentor in a quiet way. He was the only teacher who I felt cared about their students as people and wanted us to succeed. Mr. C’s Journalism classes and his guidance for our ‘Ledger’ staff was a big bright spot in my high school memory.”
Croasdill came to the Clover Park School District in 1955, initially teaching at Clover Park High and advising ‘Clover Leaves’, the school’s student newspaper.
In 1963, while continuing at Clover Park High, he added teaching at new – it opened in 1962 – Lakes High and advised its student newspaper, the ‘Lakes Ledger.’ During his time teaching at both schools, the two newspapers had one combined Lakes/Clover Park issue a school year focusing on a single topic.
He was adviser to Clover Park and Lakes chapters of Quill and Scroll, an international high school journalism honor society.
After 23 years in the district he retired in 1978. But, he didn’t stop teaching.
“Dad’s motivation in teaching was to prepare his students for the next phase in their lives,” said his daughter, Helen Croasdill Montfort of Jacksonville, Florida. “He genuinely loved teaching. He enjoyed working at both schools …”
Confirmed his daughter, Carolyn “Lyn” Croasdill Hill of Olympia. “He loved his job as a teacher and always hoped to make an impact on his students.”
“There was a time in dad’s life as a teacher that few people know about,” said Helen. In the 1960s – this was when he was teaching at both Lakes and Clover Park — he and another teacher taught night classes to the inmates at McNeil Island Penitentiary. After school they would take the prison boat from Steilacoom to the island. He would be home around 9 o’clock in the evening. Their teaching enabled the inmates to graduate from high school or earn their GED.
Charles Watson Croasdill IV and Ruth lived in Lakewood, where they raised their family. He died at age 80 on May 12, 1997 in Lakewood. She died at age 92 in Edmonds on April 21, 2016.
“Chuck” – the name he preferred – was born in Seattle on Jan. 1, 1917. He graduated in 1935 from Seattle’s Roosevelt High School where he competed in track & field and cross-country. His student activities also included being an editor of “The Roosevelt News” student newspaper.
He studied at the University of Washington in Seattle. Very athletic and extremely competitive, while a UW student he completed and lettered in cross-country and lettered, too, as a miler and half-miler for the track & field UW Huskies. He was a UW track team captain. And, he played varsity tennis, too.
The 1938 UW ‘Tyee’ yearbook, covering the 1937-1938 academic year when he was a junior, said his 3.9 grade point helped improve his Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity house’s member grade average.
After graduating in June 1940 with a bachelor of arts degree in education from the UW College of Arts and Sciences, he taught in eastern Washington in Wallula near the Washington-Oregon border, at Columbia Union High School. That ended when he joined the U. S. Army during World War II.
The Army sent Private Croasdill to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. He was trained as a radio operator with the Alaska Communication System, said Helen. “There was a very small base and because of the brutal weather, not much to do. The Army supplied the men with cigarettes and playing cards.”
Playing cards came in handy in the Croasdill Lakewood home. He held ‘legendary; monthly poker games at which friends, including teaching colleagues, took part. But, back to serving in the Army …
… Traveling on a passenger train to home in Seattle on furlough from his Army duties in Alaska, he met Ruth Evelyn Matheson, a Canadian (born in Winnipeg, Manitoba), who was living in Vancouver, British Columbia.
In November 1945 he was honorably discharged from the Army at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Chuck and Ruth married on April 12, 1946, in Seattle. In 1951 she became a U.S. citizen.
They moved to Aberdeen (Grays Harbor Co.), Wash., where, over nine years, he worked first for Grays Harbor College and later for Aberdeen (Weatherwax) High School.
The Croasdill children – Helen, Carolyn (“Lyn”) and Charles (“Charlie”) — were born in Aberdeen. They all graduated from Lakes High, Helen in 1966, Lyn in 1968 and Charlie in 1970. None of them had their father as a teacher.
At the college, his duties included serving as an adviser of the ‘Timber Line’ student newspaper. At the high school, he taught English and journalism and was adviser of the ‘Ocean Breeze’ student newspaper.
From Aberdeen, the Croasdills moved to Lakewood in 1955 and to duties in the Clover Park School District. They became Little Church on the Prairie members.
During three consecutive summers in the early 1960s, the Croasdill family lived in Provo, Utah, while Chuck attended and taught journalism classes at Brigham Young University. He was among a select number of high school journalism teachers from across the nation awarded fellowships from The Newspaper Fund, Inc., made possible by grants from the Wall Street Journal.
The fellowships were designed to “encourage more talented young people to choose journalism as a career by assisting high school newspaper advisers and journalism teachers, according to an Associated Press story in May 1960.
Following his 1978 retirement from the Clover Park School District, he taught English for seven years (1979-1986) at Fort Steilacoom Community College (now Pierce College)
After his second retirement in 1986, he and his wife, Ruth, enjoyed traveling.
“They had a small motor home. For the winter they would drive it from Lakewood to Florida where my husband and I and our children lived,” said Helen. “They would park it in our yard and spend time with us. My sons had lots of help with their English homework!”
Chuck and Ruth’s travellust went beyond the United States. “They weren’t afraid to go anywhere. One time they took a three-month trip on a freighter. They got off the ship at each port. The ship only took a small number of passengers so this was a special adventure,” Helen said.
“My parents were very devoted to each other and both worked very hard to provide for our family. I appreciated that we always sat at the table together for dinner and talked about how our day went. My dad always had something interesting to say,” said Lyn.
“Dad had a really great sense of humor and always provided some laughs,” said Lyn. “We spent summers camping & visiting national parks & I have always treasured those memories. My four children cherished them both as grandparents.”
“Our father was an active and involved sports fan,” said Charlie of Tacoma. “He really enjoyed playing golf and bowling, including with fellow teachers. He was also an expert at solving crossword puzzles.”
His love of sports manifested itself another way. At Clover Park he was public address “voice” for boys’ basketball games and radio play-by-play “voice” for Clover Park football games.
“Not only was he a collegiate athlete in two sports, he continued his love of sport as an adult. He was an avid spectator and participant. I have fond memories of him teaching me and my sisters to play golf and tennis and there was the ever present badminton “court” in the backyard. It was ‘lined’ just like grass football fields. It was the site of many hotly contested games and great memories.
‘He would watch any sporting event on television and was always organizing betting pools with friends. I remember as a young boy being fully engaged as he told me, “Charlie, do not ever bet on a baseball game without knowing both pitchers”. Sage advice!
“I always thought it was an adventure to get to accompany my dad when he would announce the football or basketball games at Clover Park High School.
“The football games were the best as we would have to traverse a scary wooden catwalk to the announcer’s booth at the top of the old Thompson Field stadium. I would use binoculars and be his ‘spotter’, while eating free hotdogs. He would have coffee and a cigarette going. He was in his element calling the game into a big old microphone.
“It is perfect that his birthday was January first. He would spend the day watching every football bowl game on television, all day long. It was always the best birthday gift ever, for our dad, the sports fan.”
At Chuck’s death in 1997, survivors included Ruth, his wife of 51 years; daughters Helen Montfort (Ed), Carolyn “Lyn” Hill (Rick) and son Charles “Charlie” Croasdill (Kristine); sister Kit Hall; brother Walter Croasdill; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.