NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There are people who take the volunteer spirit to heart and that’s true for Inez Crutchfield, who uses her time and personal resources to make a difference for all Nashvillians.
Now in her early 90s, Crutchfield sits in her living room surrounded by memories of a life well-lived.
“Life has been so good to me,” Crutchfield said. “That’s true, I have had a wonderful life.”
Born in 1925, in Watertown, Tennessee, her father owned a dry-cleaning business and her mother was a teacher.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Crutchfield enrolled at Tennessee State University after graduating high school in 1943.
At TSU, Crutchfield studied theatre and played varsity basketball before graduating with two degrees.
She would then went on to teach at the university for 35 years.
“I’m really proud of the face I became a teacher at Tennessee State University,” she said. “I was proud of that little Watertown, Tennessee, girl.”
While accomplishing education and career goals, Crutchfield also made waves outside of the classroom after she became the first African-American to join the Democratic Women’s Committee.
“The first meeting of the Democratic Women’s Committee was really something,” she recalled. “They had, at that time, they had no black members.”
She continued, “When I stood up, there was a kind of quietness that took place and everybody was kind of – gasp – one of those these kinds of things,” she said.
Crutchfield said it was Governor Frank Clement’s sister Anna Belle who would break the silence.
“Anna Belle Clement Obrien stood up and said, ‘Isn’t this wonderful?’” she recalled.
Over the next 40 years, Crutchfield would go on to work with some of the Democratic party’s most powerful leaders.
“She had as close a relationship with senior people in the Clinton Administration as anybody in Tennessee, except for Al Gore,” said family friend Aubrey Harwell.
“I’ve had some very good connections – it’s true,” Crutchfield said.
In 1985, Crutchfield joined the Meharry Medical College Board of Trustees as the historically black institution struggled through its toughest times. She helped guide it through the merger of Nashville General and Hubbard hospitals, creating a teaching center for Meharry’s black students.
Beyond her public persona, Crutchfield was also a mother and wife. For 65 years, she shared a life with her high school sweetheart and raised two children.
“There wasn’t a dance recital that she didn’t attend, a piano recital, making sure we went to Sunday School. She would take my brother to Scout meetings,” her daughter Beth Crutchfield said. “No matter what she did, or whatever else she was involved in, she was always there for us.”
Besides her family, Crutchfield was also there for her city. Her civic contributions and membership in non-profit organizations and on public boards help elevate the stature of women and improve the quality of life for all.
While her awards and honors are too numerous to list, in 2013, she was inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame.