By Dawn Kessinger
Christmas is the perfect time to recognize and appreciate giving hearts in the community, and Virginia Galvin Crouse will always be a gold star on Lima’s Christmas tree of generosity.
Virginia Galvin Crouse, the daughter of John E. and Florence F. Galvin, was born July 3, 1919, and raised in Lima. She graduated with a degree from Ogantz College in Philadelphia. Beginning in her teens and continuing through her 80s, Crouse lived an active lifestyle. She was athletic and enjoyed playing tennis and golf.
Crouse was frequently heard to say, “If you sit down, you rust,” and these words would be remembered by her four children and nine grandchildren.
On Oct. 22, 1943, Crouse married John “Jack” Crouse and the couple settled in Lima and raised four children. Jack Crouse built a career working for Virginia’s father, John Galvin, and eventually became president of Ohio Steel Foundry. Jack Crouse died in 1978.
When Crouse faced the loss of four loved ones – both parents, brother Bob and husband, Jack – within an eight-year time frame, she focused even more of her attention on those in the Lima community who were in need, and she acted to fill those needs.
“Her motto was ‘Find a need and fill it,’” said Crouse’s son, David, of Petoskey, Mich., in an interview shortly after her death in 2012. “She was a committee of one and felt a very strong sense of being intimately involved on the local level,” he said.
Virginia Crouse had already demonstrated – often – a shining spirit of generosity for the people in the Lima community as well as for various causes in Petoskey, Mich., where she spent summers. The Galvin and Crouse families had a tradition of enjoying summers in Bay View, Mich., which was begun in 1895 by Virginia Crouse’s grandparents.
In Lima, Crouse was a primary donor in the construction of the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center. After Jack’s death, her leadership and financial donations made it possible for individuals, corporations and local government to see the need for a professional performing arts and convention center in downtown Lima. In 1984, the Civic Center complex opened.
In appreciation of her financial gifts and leadership, the 1,800-seat performance hall was named Crouse Performance Hall. Crouse’s support continued through the years as she strived to ensure its position among the top performance venues in the country.
“It’s because of her passion; she truly believed in the right of the citizens to have the opportunity to be exposed to theater, dance, film, music and all the things that go on there. She loved those things and she believed in those things,” said Crafton Beck in a 2012 interview. In addition to being the musical director and conductor of the Lima Symphony Orchestra, Beck was a friend of Crouse, who supported LSO for decades.
According to a news story, Dick Riggs, former Development Director of LSO, said funding for the Civic Center became a challenge for years because much of the Civic Center had to be privately funded, and building estimate costs continued to rise. Millions of dollars had to be raised, and Crouse helped in making that happen.
On May 9, 2012, according to a news story, a reception was held for Crouse at The City Club to honor her and her family for their lifetime commitment to the Lima community. In 1990, Crouse and her family made a $100,000 donation to United Way in memory of her father, John Galvin. United Way then received an anonymous $150,000 challenge match, which was met six months later.
At the reception, it was revealed that the Crouse family had been the contributor of the $150,000 challenge match. United Way credited Virginia Crouse with thinking about the future and making a gift to help United Way to continue its work for generations to come.
Crouse also supported other nonprofit organizations, including the YMCA, the YWCA and the Bradfield Center.
Son David Crouse said faith and family were major priorities for his mother. Crouse was a lifelong member of Market Street Presbyterian Church, where she was an elder for many years and sang in the choir.
Crouse died Sept. 5, 2012, at age 93.
“Another thing that was remarkable about her was the fact that she remained a vital part of the community until the very end,” Lima Mayor David Berger said after her death. “I think for many people, when they retire, they tend to move away. Virginia had very deep roots in our community and loved Lima and the people of Lima,” he said.