By Bruce Hallmark (M.S., ’04)
“What motivates a young kid in a tiny town in North Dakota to reach out to the entire world – that resulted in his working in 43 countries and visiting 100?”
That’s the opening question of a new book titled Right Place, Right Time!: The Inspiring Adventures of Stanley A. Moe, Trailblazer, World Traveler, Architect, Storyteller by Colorado State University alumna Billie Jo (Moe) Crouse (B.A. English and teaching certification, ’62) and Susan Baldwin Stroh.
Stanley Moe, Crouse’s father, worked as an architect, engineer, and project manager across the globe from 1941 until he retired in the 1990s. The 432-page book (available on Amazon) is full of letters and dairy entries beginning when Moe was 11 years old and spanning his nearly 60-year career, supplemented by backstories and historical context provided by Crouse.
“Dad’s philosophy,” Crouse says, “was that you need to write as if you are explaining what you see, smell, hear – to make where you are come alive to the person receiving the message. Some letters were 10-pages long. He was a wonderful storyteller.”
More than 200 photographs accompany hundreds of letters and diary entries Moe began penning in North Dakota, Idaho Falls, Idaho, and later in England, Africa, Algeria, Japan, and dozens of other countries. After spending so much time documenting his life and travels abroad, Moe asked his daughter to preserve them as his memoirs to be shared with family, friends, former colleagues, and … the world.
Crouse was the right choice for the job. At age 81 she is still sharp as a tack, and like her father, has led an adventurous life. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she first lived in nearby St. Louis Park in a house designed and built by her parents, both of whom were architects. In 1948, her father’s job necessitated moving the family to Van Nuys, California. “I was a valley girl before valley girls were even a thing,” Crouse said.
After high school, she chose to attend CSU because her beloved godmother (who is Crouse’s namesake) lived in Fort Collins with her husband, a chemistry professor at the University. She originally majored in home economics, but in her junior year switched to English because “I thought there were all these classics I should read, and I wasn’t going to read them unless they were assigned.”
Crouse, however, has dyslexia and struggled academically throughout her life, though she enlisted the aid of friends who would read books out loud to her and found other workarounds to succeed. It wasn’t until she was working as a high school teacher in Oak Park, Illinois, and a colleague began teaching students with reading difficulties that Crouse realized the condition she struggled with was called dyslexia.
She never received treatment and persevered through the challenges eventually earning two master’s degrees, one in special education for the gifted from the University of Illinois, and the other in human services and counseling from DePaul University. Later, she and her husband, Dean, established a counseling center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Crouse’s struggles with a learning disability motivated her and Dean in 2012 to establish the Billie and Dean Crouse Acacia Scholarship within CSU’s Division of Student Affairs to provide financial support and tutoring for students with learning disabilities. (You can donate to this fund through the Student Disability Center.)
“My editor (and co-author of Right Place, Right Time!) thinks I should write my own memoirs,” Crouse said, “because, like my father, I have lots of interesting experiences of my own.”