Glenn Crosby

Businessman and Community Leader

Copyright © 1990, 2010
National Federation of the Blind

          The President of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas is Glenn Crosby of Houston. He was first elected to that position in 1968 and served until 1970. He was again elected in 1978. Crosby is a successful restaurant owner and manager, having opened his first snack bar in 1968. During the past twenty years he has owned food service businesses at five separate locations, usually two or three at a time. He has served on the school board of All Saints Elementary Catholic School, been a director of the Houston Heights Little League, and been active in several city and county political campaigns.

          On April 15, 1989, Glenn Crosby and Norma Beathard were married. Norma is the capable President of the National Federation of the Blind of Houston.

          Born in 1945, Glenn Crosby was blinded at the age of three by an accident. He was educated at the Texas School for the Blind. He says that there were so many restrictive rules at that school that the students learned to defy them.

"It was the only way to survive,"

he says.

"We learned (for better or worse) to take risks when we were still young."

          The only dating permitted was expeditions to school socials. Students could leave the campus only in groups and only on Saturday afternoons twice a month unless they had specific parental permission for additional trips. Crosby graduated in 1963. The preceding year half the senior class was not graduated because they had left campus a few days before the ceremony for a celebration. The message to the Class of '63 was perhaps not what school officials had intended. The students did not forego their party; they merely took pains to insure that they were not caught. Crosby's assessment of the school's curriculum is that the classes were not bad but that the courses that would have allowed admission to the best colleges and universities were not available. He earned state championships in wrestling and was offered the opportunity to compete for the Olympics in 1964. Crosby believes that blindness was the reason he was not offered a wrestling scholarship at a prestigious school.

          Poor as his education was, Crosby is grateful that he was among the relative handful of blind Texans who were educated at all at the time. Many blind youngsters were sent to the school for the blind as teenagers to learn a trade if they could, and most of these people are now employed in the state's thirteen sheltered workshops, frequently earning painfully low wages. It is not hard to understand why Glenn Crosby devotes a large part of his time and energy to the National Federation of the Blind -- the consumer organization working to improve the lives and prospects of blind people.

          Crosby's first job was with the Poverty Program. The only blind people he knew who earned a decent living worked in food service under the Randolph-Shepherd Program. His parents had been in business and had done some fast food service. Crosby did not want a business run by the state commission for the blind. He believed that he had had enough experience with state bureaucracy at the School for the Blind. Besides, he had learned to take risks. Crosby does not doubt today that he made the right decision.

"If I had not seen it for myself, it would be hard for me to believe that the blind have made as much progress as we have since I have been a part of the Federation--a little more than twenty years. There are still thousands of blind people in Texas (and I am sure even more throughout the country) who have never had much of an education or much constructive help. The quality of their lives is poor. One day at a time I try to do my part to help improve the quality of life for all of us who are blind."

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