Carnival royalty honors couple at Vets’ Home

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Bob Croucher is dubbed one of the "Card-Carrying Croucher's" by Whitefish Winter Carnival King Scotty MacLaren while his wife Dorothy Croucher, having just been bestowed with the same title, and Queen Gayle MacLaren look on at the Montana Veteran's Home on Tuesday, Feb. 4. (Teresa Byrd photo)

The royalty from Whitefish Winter Carnival traveled to the Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls last week to honor Bob and Dorothy Croucher, two of the home’s residents, with a special title. King “Ullr” Scotty MacLaren dubbed the couple, who met at the age of 75 playing pinochle, the “Card-Carrying Crouchers,” complete with a model sword. Queen Gayle MacLaren presented them with pinned sashes.

Winter Carnival Prime Minister Marcus Duffey announced with great fanfare King Ullr, Scotty MacLaren; Queen of the Snows, Gayle MacLaren; and their entourage the Duchess of Lark, Sara Straka; Princess Freya, Regan Retz; and Prince Frey, Riley Gulick. The entrance was met with raucous applause by a group of residents filling the dining room of the home’s 50-bed unit.

The honorees’ received the title with apparent surprise and delight. The couple had been woken up and enticed to the dining room to play “name that tune” with the talented in-house pianist and activity aide Bonnie Savage. None of the residents at the home knew the royalty were coming. The couple razed the staff about the contrived method of getting them to the dining hall. “The sneaky people tricked us,” said Dorothy with a chuckle.

The Crouchers, who have been married for 18 years, moved from Kalispell to the home a little over two years ago. Dorothy was born in Havre and had worked as a waitress and restaurant owner. Bob was born in Libby and had been a rancher and logger. Bob served in the navy from 1943 to 1946. Both loved to dance and travel, and of course play cards, until their eyesight became too poor.

The Montana Veterans’ Home, a 100-plus bed facility established in 1896, has been partnering with the Whitefish Winter Carnival royalty “for as long as the 16 years I’ve been here,” said activities director Bonnie Stutsman.

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