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Michael B. Crutcher

Michael B. CrutcherMichael B. Crutcher was born in Seattle, Washington on April 7, 1944 to Marshall Bayard Crutcher, an admiralty lawyer at the Bogle firm, and Marjorie Sandstrom, a homemaker. He graduated from Queen Anne High School in Seattle and entered Yale in September 1962. He was a History Intensive Major and was either a Ranking Scholar or on the Dean’s List each semester. He was a member of Branford College, was Chairman of the Progressive Caucus in the Political Union, and was in Book and Snake. In the summer of 1963, he joined a group of students who were traveling to Philadelphia County, Mississippi to work on voter registration. While a number of the students were arrested and beaten by the police, Crutcher luckily avoided harm.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1969, Crutcher joined the Seattle law firm then known as the Preston firm becoming a partner in 1974. At Preston, he represented the nuclear power industry, the Port of Seattle, and was principal trial lawyer for the unsuccessful Northern Tier Pipeline Company. In 1989, he became general counsel at the Brown-Forman Corporation, a Louisville, Kentucky-based distiller and owner of Jack Daniels. In 2007, Crutcher retired from Brown-Forman as vice chairman, general counsel and secretary. During his time at the company, one of his passions at Brown-Forman was to work with industry groups to move the beverage spirits industry to more aggressively promote responsible drinking and reduce alcohol abuse. He was also chairman of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the Centre for Information on Beverage Alcohol, and the International Center on Alcohol Policies.

In 2009, he and his wife, Judy who he married in 1967, moved back to the Magnolia neighborhood in Seattle close to where he grew up. They also had a residence in Louisville. Crutcher loved fishing and photography, and in retirement, took up cartooning. His cartoon books were short and colorful commentaries on politics, history, fishing, cars, travel, and fantastical story books for his granddaughter, Vivian.

Crutcher took to heart a sign posted in his family’s summer cabin on Whidbey Island: “Allah does not deduct from his allotted time, those hours spent in fishing.” He spent countless hours fishing streams and rivers for trout, salmon, steelhead in the Northwest, Montana, Alaska, Canada and the Catskills in New York. These trips often included his son, Charles and David (brother) as well as fellow anglers he met throughout his life. He also was an avid stalker of Florida’s waters pursuing snook, redfish, and tarpon. His fishing adventures included a week on the Kola peninsula in Russia where he flew in vintage military helicopters to fish raging rivers in search of steelhead.

Michael was keenly interested in everything related to Winston Churchill, especially his witticisms, including “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” In that respect Michael was generous in giving time and financial contributions, including to Bellarmine University in Louisville where he was a member of the Board of Trustees.

Michael died of cancer on July 24, 2022 at his home in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle where he grew up. Until the end he helped write Memorials for deceased classmates and drafted this one for himself. He was graced with a wonderful family. Besides his wife of 55 years, Judy, he leaves his daughter Alix, son-in law, Ian Flick, son, Andrew, daughter-in-law, Chrissy, all of Louisville, and son Charles of Seattle. He had three grandchildren, Tyler and Emma Flick, and Vivian Crutcher. He also leaves a sister, Mary Atwater, of Greenbank, Washington and a brother, David Crutcher of South Orange, New Jersey, as well as four nieces and one nephew, and several grandnieces and nephews.

— Benjamin Liptzin