Crout remembered for commitment to community
By Traci Chapman
He was a man who loved his family, his friends and his community, someone who showed through his actions how much he believed in Mustang and its potential – and although gone, Robert Crout left behind him a legacy of promise, growth and determination that would prevail, those who knew and loved him say.
It was a legacy 44 years in the making, but one abruptly cut short last week when Crout was killed in a July 17 automobile accident in the Texas Panhandle. He left behind his wife Kathy, with him in the car and injured but subsequently released from the hospital; sons, Lawson, 29, and Connor, 25; and a lifetime’s worth of family, friends, business associates and more.
Crout was 69.
The man who would become known to many as “Mr. Mustang” moved to the city he would become synonymous with in 1975. After graduating from University of Oklahoma in 1972 with a degree in finance and business, Crout would first join an Oklahoma City investment brokerage; but, it was shortly after moving to Mustang in 1975 Crout decided to take his destiny into his own hands, he said in a 2017 interview.
“I knew I wanted to do two things – work with the land and work for myself,” he said. “Mustang was a perfect place to do that.”
That decision prompted the formation of Crout Companies and a number of related enterprises conceived throughout the years; his first development, The Branches, would still be recognized for its land planning signature almost four decades later, officials said.
In fact, much of Mustang’s landscape is a result – at least in part – of Crout’s efforts, officials said. The developer of numerous commercial and residential properties throughout the community, including Mustang Trade Center, was also responsible for the creation of the 43-acre Pebble Creek golf course, apartments and commercial spaces; he was instrumental in bringing several major businesses to the city; and he served on Mustang Planning Commission.
While known for his work as a developer, Crout also branched out into other endeavors – in 1986, making a bid for Oklahoma State Senate, nearly achieving a primary victory on an economic development platform. He was also devoted to helping promote health care across Canadian County as governing board member and past chairman of Integris Canadian Valley Hospital.
“That was something that always intrigued me – to me ensuring quality health care should always be a priority,” Crout said in 2017.
But, it was in Mustang Crout’s heart always beat strongest, he said. After co-chartering Mustang National Bank in 1984, he in 1987 purchased the Mustang News, selling the weekly newspaper a decade later in 1997.
“That was one of the most enjoyable endeavors of my life and one that really cemented my love for Mustang in a truly rounded way – after all, that’s how you know what’s going on in all facets of your community and just how much this wonderful place has to offer,” Crout said in 2014. “The Mustang News of that time was one of my proudest achievements, and I’ll always cherish the years I owned and operated it.”
That view – of a Mustang that had so much going for it – was a driving force in his life, Crout said. For those who knew him, he was, in turn, a driving force in the community he loved, giving his time freely and helping others in countless way, and honors for those actions weren’t far behind.
Crout was the first inductee to the Mustang Hall of Fame, in 1988, a group that expanded over the years to include several notable residents – past and present. The group became a particular interest of Crout, who just recently started the process of handing the job of emceeing annual banquets to Canadian County Commissioner David Anderson.
“The Hall of Fame has always been close to my heart, and the friendships I’ve made as a result of being part of it have been invaluable through the years,” Crout said earlier this year. “They are an inspiration; it’s an honor to serve with them.”
Another award Crout said meant more than most was his 2015 selection as Mustang Ambassador by Mustang Chamber of Commerce. Extremely active in the chamber throughout his years in Mustang, the honor was presented to him by former Mayor Jay Adams.
“Robert Crout has been an asset to the city of Mustang, and we are very lucky he chose our community as his home,” Adams said at that time. “He is an example of hard work and a remarkable work ethic and how it can truly help you find success.”
Current Mayor Jess Schweinberg knew Crout long before he and his own family moved to the city, he said – not only because of Crout’s development projects or business acumen, but because of his strong affinity for the community.
“There were many times I would refer to him as Mr. Mustang in conversations with people, and everyone knew exactly who I was referring to,” Schweinberg said. “This man loved this community, as can be seen by all of the development, both commercial and residential, that his name is on; he was truly an exceptional businessman, advocate for the city and friend. “Robert will be greatly missed, but his legacy will forever be a part of the history and the future of this city,” the mayor said.
For his part, Crout said ‘lucky’ was the word he thought of when thinking of his life.
“I have been incredibly blessed by the most wonderful of families, the best business situations and the greatest talent with those I’ve done business with,” he said when named Mustang Ambassador. “I have had a very lucky, very happy life.”