JAMES DARRAGH CROWNOVER, aka, Jimmie C., was born November 16, 1929 in Marble Falls, Texas to Morris Goree and Attie Mary Darragh Crownover. He passed away peacefully with family at his ranch Wednesday night due to complications from a stroke.
Jimmie moved to Pampa, Texas in 1942 with his parents and brother, Melvin Crownover. He began sixth grade in Pampa and it was that year he met his childhood sweetheart, Billie Jean (Jeanne) Hollis. They both graduated in 1948 and married in 1951. They raised a family of four children and were married 55 years until Jeanne’s passing in 2006.
Jim and Jeanne were charter members of St. Matthias church where they dedicated their time and raised their children with a strong faith.
He attended the University of Texas in Austin and received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1954. He also received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University by attending night school.
Upon graduation, he moved to Dallas and worked for Collins Radio Co., where he was instrumental in the development of weather radar for commercial airlines. In 1956, the engineering model was offered to Channel 5 TV, which made Channel 5 the first television station in the southwest to use radar in forecasting the weather.
He then assumed a position with Texas Instruments where he was in charge of the development of military night vision equipment, which was first used in Vietnam. He coined the acronym, FLIR, for forward looking infrared and patented the FLIR, which can be found on various military equipment and most modern police helicopters today.
Crownover’s career as an entrepreneur began with his formation of Crown Design Manufacturing Corp. There he designed and produced products for the telephone industry. His design and patent of five items were manufactured and sold to telephone companies throughout the United States and Canada.
In 1969, he founded Spectronics, Inc., which manufactured opto-electronic components and equipment for the military and electronic industries. The company was one of the first to develop fiber optics for communication. Spectronics was acquired by Honeywell, Inc. in the late 70’s.
Crownover then began Optek, Inc., which designed and patented many parts for GM and Hughes Aircraft. He was named the number one supplier of Hughes Aircraft for multiple years. The company grew large enough in four years to become a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. While serving as chairman and CEO, he was invited to sit on many boards including the Board of Control Systems International. Optek was later sold to an investment group in Chicago.
Following his retirement from Optek, Inc., Crownover moved home to his birth place of Marble Falls and formed Crown Ranch Properties, Inc., which was a real estate development company that operated in the Texas Hill Country. When he was not satisfied with the internet service at his ranch, he founded Zeecon Wireless Internet, which provided high speed internet in the area. Once satisfied with the service, Crownover sold Zeecon, which continues to provide great service and expand all over the area.
His career was a notable success in the field of electronics for many decades. He and his companies were featured in many newspapers and articles including Fortune magazine, Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Times Herald and many trade publications.
Crownover was selected as the High Tech Entrepreneur of the Year for Texas in 1989. He was Assistant Director of the American Electronics Association for two years and a member of the Engineering Advisory Board of the University of Texas in Austin and the Engineering Advisory Board of the University of Texas in Dallas for many years.
He is survived by his children and their families; Gail and Ian Glen of Colleyville, TX, son Stephen; John Crownover of Round Rock, TX, daughters Katy (Matt), Kim (Clint), Michelle (Joey); Suzy Crownover of Southlake, TX, sons Ryan (Lauren) and Russell; Jane and Conner Helms of Oklahoma City, OK, daughters Taylor and Chandler. Preceded in death by his wife Jeanne Hollis Crownover, his parents, Morris Goree and Attie Mary Darragh Crownover, and his brother Melvin Crownover.
A service will be held Saturday, December 22, 2018 at 11:00 am at The Church at Horseshoe Bay, 600 Hi Ridge Road, Horseshoe Bay, TX, (830) 598-8390.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his name would be appreciated to MD Anderson for Cancer Research at P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486, contact number (800)525-5841 and the Horseshoe Bay Group of AA, P.O. Box 988, Kingsland, TX 78629. Please include his name and address of 26800 E. HWY 71, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78627.