Croyle to be guest speaker for chamber
By By Lydia Grimes
John Croyle was an easy choice to be guest speaker at the annual Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce banquet on March 2.
Croyle is the founder of the Big Oak Ranch and the father of former Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle.
Crane said tickets are still available for the event. “We do have some tickets that have not been sold, but they won’t last long,” she said.
Croyle grew up in Gadsden and played football for Gadsden High School, graduating in 1969. He attended the University of Alabama and played football as a defensive end with the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant. Bryant encouraged Croyle to follow his dream. Croyle wanted to build a home for boys who had been hurt, physically and mentally. His dream saw reality in 1974 when he opened the Big Oak Ranch outside of Gadsden.
Some years later his vision to start a Girl’s Ranch came about because of a tragedy that occurred. He begged the court to let him take a 12-year old girl, Shelley, home to the ranch, but she was returned to her parents instead. Three months later, the child was beaten to death by her parents. The Big Oak Girl’s Ranch opened in 1988 after Croyle felt the Lord’s call to start a girl’s home.