Rev. James W. Crocker, Sr. (’43) [left] plans ahead and pays a lot of attention to detail, while Rev. Bobby G. Crocker (’57) [right] is better at thinking on his feet. The brothers share the characteristic of caring deeply about others.
Combined, they have served more than 100 years as Baptist ministers. Bobby, 70, serves as interim pastor at Ottaray Church, Union, James, 78, has served as interim at 12 churches since he retired 16 years ago.
Both men grew up attending Mon-Aetna Church, Union, where they both were baptized.
James said he hadn’t thought about becoming a minister. But the summer after he finished Union High School in 1941, James went to Royal Ambassadors camp, where he met M. C. Donnan, the president of North Greenville College. There, James surrendered to the ministry, and Donnan offered him a work scholarship to the college.
On Easter Sunday 1942, James preached his first sermon at Tabernacle Church, Union. His future wife, Vera Morris, was in the congregation, though they hadn’t started dating yet.
James was licensed to preach by Tabernacle Church, Union, in 1942. He and Vera married in 1943, and he was ordained at Mon-Aetna Church in 1945.
He is a graduate of North Greenville, Furman University, and Southeastern Seminary. When James graduated from the seminary in 1948, he returned to South Carolina for his first full-time pastorate at Union Church, Filbert.
He served as pastor of Pacolet Mills Church, and the last 30 years of his career were at First Church, Boiling Springs and Fairview Church, Greer. Fairview named him pastor emeritus.
James retired when he was 62, and he and his wife moved back to Boiling Springs. They have one son, James W. Jr., and three grandchildren.
He has been a trustee at both North Greenville and Anderson colleges and currently serves as trustee for South Carolina Baptist Ministries for the Aging.
Other honors include vice president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and president of the former General Board for two years.
Bobby said that as a youth, becoming a pastor was the “farthest thing” from his mind. He played fullback for the Union High School football team and had dreams of playing professionally. A heart murmur cut short his career, and he dropped out of high school and went to work as a cloth doffer at Monarch Mill.
Bobby and the former Mary Voiselle were married in 1949, James conducted his ceremony.
As Bobby worked in the mill, he knew in his heart that God was dealing with him. One day, he climbed the fence at the mill to go hear James, who was preaching a revival at Fairview Church.
“I slipped out to go hear him,” Bobby said, “I had a clean white shirt to put on, but I still had on my blue jeans and I sat in the back of the church.”
The sermon was on “Being a Fool for Christ.” Before James was finished, Bobby was convinced the Lord wanted him to enter the ministry.
Bobby and his wife sold their furniture and moved to North Greenville. First, Bobby had to finish high school. He went to a junior academy that North Greenville offered. He was the valedictorian of his class.
He graduated from North Greenville College, Furman University, and Erskine Seminary. He was ordained in 1959 at Mon-Aetna, and James preached at the ordination service.
His first full-time pastorate was at Poplar Springs Church, Switzer. He also has served at Draytonville Church, Gaffney, and Mt. Lebanon in Greer before returning home to Westside Church, Union, where he retired in the 1980s.
At Mt. Lebanon, where Bobby served for 10 years, he was pastor to country music star Aaron Tippin. He baptized “Tip,” as he refers to Tippin. Bobby said over the years that he often preached, “What you do today, you will live with tonight.” Tippin had a hit song, “You’ve Got to Stand for Something,” which used that line.
Bobby still communicates with Tippin, kidding Tippin that he’s looking for royalties from that song.
“He tells me to keep watching my mailbox,” Bobby said.
Bobby’s wife died in 1993. He has one daughter, Jan Stiles of Greenville, and two granddaughters.
James said he and Bobby share a lot of similarities as preachers. “Both of us have a deep caring for people, we both understand the needs of people and read people well,” he said.
Article reprinted with permission of the Union Daily Times in the March 2002 North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.