John Andrew Croll

Columbia, MO
April 22, 1920 – May 13, 2005

John Croll was born in Newark NJ. He attended elementary and secondary schools there then entered the University of Missouri at Columbia and graduated in 1942.

He and his wife, Emma, were married in 1941. He served in the U S Navy in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of war in WWII.

After the war they lived in New London MO. for 26 years. He was a farmer, an IH dealer, the County Extension Agent before moving to Columbia with the state extension service. He retired in 1990 from MU as Associate Professor Emeritus.

QSME member Rev. John Yonker conducted a memorial service and Bud Linn, and I were among those asked to say some things about John. The following is what I said:

“John Croll came into our lives about 18 years ago. I took to John almost immediately. He was the quiet type who just sort of stood back and watched what was going on. His knowledge of this hobby we call model railroading was excellent, and he remembered all the old models and manufacturers I remembered.

Some say this is more than a hobby, rather like an affliction. After all we are the grown men who play with toy trains. However, there are also grown men and women who jump out of perfectly good airplanes or chase a little white ball over hill and dale.

John was so happy to come to Quincy and just be with the guys. He would bring an engine or a whole train, just to have someone run it on the club layout.

There was one thing I never really understood, that was whether he and Bud made the trip to Quincy specifically for the sessions with the trains, or was it so they could stop at the Junction Restaurant for a tenderloin sandwich. John said they were best in the world.

Not only was John an avid model railroader, he was also deeply interested in the railroad history of Northeast Missouri. He was very proud of the City of Columbia getting its own railroad. When the Missouri Department of Transportation named a portion of the Highway 19 for the old shortline railroad he sent me every clipping he could find.

Another MoDOT action also pleased him. The highway department deeded the old railroad depot at Center back to the town. It had been used as a site for highway construction and repair materials. He was happy that an historic group was going to work on the depot with hopes of restoring it.

My greatest memories of John Croll were at our annual open house gatherings in Quincy. He was so proud to dress up in his railroad conductor’s outfit and act as our official greeter. He talked with every person who came through, some times as many as 500 people in five hours. He would explain what they were going to see and what it represented.

He particularly loved talking to the children. He would tell them to look for tiny people, and cats and dogs, as well as the trains.

I particularly remember one open house about four years ago. He was sitting at the entrance to the club room all decked out like a conductor. Off to one side was a young boy, maybe six or seven years old, rather intently watching. Finally he got up the nerve to approach this gentle man, and asked him, “Are you a real railroad man. Did you work for the railroad?“ John laughed then gently said, “No, but I wish I had.” I’m sure he helped scores of folks to better understand what we were trying to do.

I know he affected so many lives while he was here at the University, as County Extension Agent, and in community development. While we may never know how many young people will remember the kindly conductor who talked with them in Quincy, I know that I will always remember John Croll and his dear Emmy.

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