Dr. Crouse and the Mustang

When David Crouse, Ph.D., was in his last year of college, in 1965, he took the nest egg he’d been saving and bought a Ford Mustang, brand new. It was perfect, custom ordered. He still remembers it coming off the truck.

“It was burgundy, with a black vinyl top,” he said.

He clicked a roll of film’s worth of photos of it, as if it was a newborn, and all these years later, he still has the pics.

Dave Crouse and his brand new burgundy Mustang, 1965.

A few years went by, and he got married and then drafted, seemingly all in one breath.

“It was not a good time to get drafted,” Dr. Crouse said. Almost immediately, he was shipping out.

His wife couldn’t drive a stick shift. With a heavy heart, Dr. Crouse asked his dad to oversee the sale of the Mustang.

Then he headed off to Vietnam.

When he got back, Dr. Crouse decided to find his car. “Some kid went out and totaled it,” his dad said.

That was that. Well, kind of. As the years passed, Dr. Crouse found himself checking E-bay, and motor auctions, and the like, looking for ’65 Mustangs.

You never forget a first love.

Dr. Crouse is retiring this week, after having been at UNMC for 35 years in various roles, most recently associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. He’s been the go-to guy again and again, a utility man who always answered the call.

So, what’s he going to do with himself now?

Dr. Crouse was back in his hometown a couple years ago when an old pal said, “Did you see your car?”

After decades apart, Dr. Crouse was reunited with a “clone” of his old beloved Mustang — it was re-built using several of his car’s original parts.

They tracked it down. “You related to Marion Crouse?” the man said. That was his dad. “That’s who I bought it from in ’68.”

The man had loved the car, but then sold it to a kid who crashed it. The man was so mad he bought the wreck back from the junkyard, and salvaged whatever he could.

The guy took parts from Dr. Crouse’s original beauty, put them together with the parts and chassis from a 1966. Car guys call it a “clone.”

“It took him 30 years,” Dr. Crouse said. But there it was.

What will he do in his retirement?

Well, now he has a another, new set of pictures to show you: a burgundy Mustang, black vinyl top. Beautiful; but the labor of love has just begun.

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