The Crosthwaites – providing a legacy of excellence |

The Crosthwaites – providing a legacy of excellence

Charles Crosthwaite was a teenager when his English parents left their Missouri home to claim a homestead in Craig. He finished his schooling in Craig, graduating in 1931. He loved the area and planned to spend his life here.

When he was 22 he took a job that would define his life and give him a secure future in the growing town. He went to work at the Moffat County Creamery and soon learned the ropes and moved into management.

Luella Blevins was born on Oct. 1, 1914, in Lay to her homesteading parents, Thomas and Ethel Blevins. She graduated from Moffat County High School before marrying her popular boyfriend, Charles Crosthwaite, in a candlelight service on Jan. 27, 1934.

By the time he married Luella, Charles had become the manager of the Meeker branch of the creamery. The young couple began their life together in Meeker, but eventually returned to Craig. They purchased the dairy – now Yampa Valley Dairy – in 1945 and ran it until they sold the dairy to Highland Dairies of Utah and retired.

The couple was active in Craig’s community – Charles served three years on the city council and was a member of the Kiwanis Club, Masonic Lodge and Elks. They sponsored sports teams for many years and provided quality dairy products for the children and adults of the Yampa Valley. They kept the dairy up-to-date and provided an outlet for farmers and ranchers in the area with milk and cream to sell.

The couple had one son, Bob, who grew up in Craig and became well-known for his progressive business ideas. In the late 1970s, he saw a market for cattle to serve the growing Japanese and Korean markets. He became a frontrunner in a growing movement of shipping American beef and dairy cattle to those nations to meet the increased demand for protein.

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Japan had quotas for imported processed beef, with 80 percent coming from grass-fed Australian cattle. About 10 percent came from New Zealand, leaving 10 percent available for American beef. Crosthwaite discovered that there were no quotas for live beef, so he began a well-orchestrated business, shipping live beef and dairy animals to meet the demand.

Colorado International Exports began shipping carefully weighed loads of cattle – at least 24 shipments in the first three months of 1977. Crosthwaite and his business associates seemed poised on the brink of a large enterprise when CIE director and Craig resident Jim Wilson was killed in a plane crash during a flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to Japan with a load of cattle. The business kept going, despite the emotional setback.

In 1980, Charles and Luella left Craig for warmer climates, but they kept in close touch with their friends in Craig. Charles died on March 6, 1995, in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Luella died on Nov. 3, 1998, in Kennewick, Wash., where she had relocated.

Shannan Koucherik may be reached at