James Crouch accumulated many titles in his 90 years, earning recognition from the U.S. Army and from the El Paso athletic community for his years of service.
Crouch, who died Monday after a lengthy illness at the age of 90, was a referee, a softball star, a decorated soldier, and the highest ranking African-American civilian employee in the history of Fort Bliss when he retired in 2010.
But more than all that, he was a mentor to countless youth in El Paso.
"Growing up in Fort Bliss, Mr. Crouch not only took care of me, he took care of a lot of children at Fort Bliss whose fathers were deployed and away," said Wayne Thornton, the public relations director of the El Paso Parks and Recreation department. "He was a father figure. He was a good man, an honest man."
Crouch retired after 30 years in the Army as a chief warrant officer 4. He then was a civilian employee for the next 32 years and retired as the highest ranking African-American in Fort Bliss history as GM-14, a civilian equivalent to lieutenant colonel.
He was also inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame as a referee in 2006, and into the El Paso Softball Hall of Fame as a player in 2015.
He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Lillian Crouch. They had four children and numerous grandchildren.
"He loves children, he loves sports, he loved officiating," Lillian Crouch said. "He always felt you need to know the rules to be an official. He was a mentor to other officials. He was generous, whether helping people financially or just lifting them up when they were down.
"He was just a special person who loved helping others."
Crouch was born in Dallas and as a soldier was deployed to Germany, Japan and Korea.