Richard Roy “Big Daddy” Crockett, born May 16, 1947 in San Saba, Texas, finished this earthly course on July 4, 2020, as he was lovingly comforted by his wife of 36 years. He received end of life care at the University of Tennessee Hospital in Knoxville.
Like the state of Texas, Richard was sizeable. Later in life, he enjoyed golf, deep sea fishing and watching sports on television, but this was preceded in his youth by athleticism and a competitive spirit. His immense frame was well suited to the basketball court. He played basketball at El Paso High School and later at Tarleton State University where he is listed as an All-Time Letterman from 1969-71. But even Texas was not large enough to contain him.
Big, powerful, and competitive like himself, the Thoroughbred lured Richard across the U.S. as he worked in various capacities in the horse racing circuit. Throughout his life, Richard would reminisce about his youthful travels from track to track, the places he saw, and the people he met along the way. One of his wishes was to stand in the Winner’s Circle at the Kentucky Derby. This culminating experience was fulfilled when longtime friend and fellow Texan, Bill Casner of WinStar Farm, invited Richard to The Run for the Roses in 2010. In the company of friends, Richard entered the Winner’s Circle as the magnificent animal, Super Saver, won by 2 ½ lengths on that first Saturday in May.
Leaving the thrill of the track behind him, Richard began a successful career in the pulp and paper industry as an Instrumentation & Controls Engineer. Ever in demand, he took on challenging projects that would retool and upgrade manufacturing plants in one place after another. His work led him to numerous states in the U.S., as well as Canada and Mexico. While the machines demanded certain attention, Richard took great pleasure in mentoring the younger ones entering the field alongside him. Over decades, the next generation would maintain close ties with “The Big Man,” as he was fondly called. Richard’s considerable travels eventually brought him to Tennessee during the 1982 World’s Fair where he met his first and only bride, Janice (Taylor) Cook, who was widowed with two young sons. Though standing nearly a foot and a half shorter than the big man, the redhead from East Tennessee captured his heart and kept him coming back, resulting in their marriage in July of 1984. Perhaps it was Richard’s obvious stature that caused him not to seek attention for himself. His conversations carefully probed what others found interesting and exciting. Throughout his life, he maintained a youthful spirit that enabled him to connect with people much younger than himself. His successful career, coupled with his interest in others, often found him underwriting the youthful whims of others both with encouragement and financial support. Richard entered this world at 13 lbs., 23” long. He appreciated all things large and majestic, the open roads over expansive plains, the rising mountains and beautiful valleys of East Tennessee, the rolling waters of vast oceans, and the powerful yet gentle nature of creatures like his beloved Rottweilers, Anzel and Elsa. Most importantly, he was curious and kind toward God’s crowning achievement, his fellow man. Richard leaves a large void in the hearts of the many he touched during his lifetime. But he also leaves the pleasant memories and experiences he so often helped to create for others.
Richard asked that no service be held. Instead, a private gathering of family took place at Berry Highland South in Knoxville on Wednesday, July 8th. His ashes will be shared between two special places in his heart, Knoxville, Tennessee, and San Saba, Texas, where his parents are interred. He was preceded in death by his beloved father, Leslie G. Crockett; mother, John Henry Crockett, and brother-in-law Sonny Pensick. He is survived by his wife, Janice; step-sons, Kenny and Chuck Cook (wife, Angela); grandchildren: Patrick, Reece and Paisley Cook; sisters, Barbara Pensick and Debra Thompson (husband Bob); nephew, Dan Pensick (wife Bev) and children Cole and Abby; niece, Cheri Scow and children Dylan and Madison; niece, Kasey Thompson; niece, Leslie Strehlow (husband Jason) and son, Jackson; and cousin, Roger Crockett.
John 11:24 – “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” In remembrance of Richard, memorial donations can be made to Ellejoy Baptist Church, Attn: Jama Proffitt, 1290 Ellejoy Road, Seymour, TN 37865.