A First Date That Never Ended
Story by Steve Nussbaum | Photos contributed by Cheney Crooks
Photo by Kim Nussbaum
At home with PK locals, Kevin and Cheney Crooks. The couple recently expanded their 1,800-square-foot home into a 3,500-square-foot dwelling with the help of local home builder Mark Anderson, taking it from a modest lake cabin to one customized for entertaining.
The COVID-19 pandemic, friends and Facebook combined to make a Possum Kingdom love story a reality for Kevin and Cheney Crooks.
Cheney Crooks described their official first date on April 12, 2020, this way: â€œWe met at PK for our first date, and I never left.â€
Kevin Crooks, a rancher in West Texas, first came to PK in 2005. He had heard about how beautiful Possum Kingdom Lake was, so he and his late wife, Ann, decided to check it out for themselves. They fell in love with the lake at first sight and went to Sandy Creek Marina to buy a boat that same weekend.
The couple bought a condo at The Escape in Sportsmanâ€™s World. They still lived full time on their ranch near Tulia but visited PK with their three daughters as often as possible.
In 2010, Ann Crooks was diagnosed with Alzheimerâ€™s, and in 2012 her desire was to move to PK full time. Kevin Crooks sold his ranch in Tulia and bought another near Crowell, as well as a home in Sportsmanâ€™s World called â€œThe Cantina,â€ where he and his wife would hold a yearly â€œCantina Festâ€ for their neighbors and friends.
Ann Crooks passed away in 2017 after a seven-year battle with Alzheimerâ€™s, after which Kevin Crooks sold the home in Sportsmanâ€™s World before buying a condo at The Harbor. He continued ranching in Crowell, though, and has since bought another ranch near Throckmorton.
Cheney Crooks, meanwhile, moved to Texas in 2011 and started working for Standard Meat Co. in Fort Worth, which has been in business since 1935. She is the senior customer service representative for four plants serving numerous large distributors and restaurant chains, working from home and traveling to her home office in Fort Worth a few times a month.
The Idaho native, who said she didnâ€™t know a soul when she moved to Texas, started coming out to PK in 2018 with friends from Fort Worth. The following year, she and some friends were at a lake party that Kevin Crooks helped host. The two of them discovered they had several friends in common and ended up becoming friends on the social media site Facebook (now called Meta) themselves.
In March 2020, one of those friends, Holly Brown, mentioned to Cheney that Kevin Crooks was single, right as the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into lockdown. Parties and socializing came to a halt, so Cheney Crooks and some of her friends joined a Facebook group titled â€œWhatchu got in that glass?â€ She invited Kevin Crooks to join the group, and the two of them seemed to hit it off in their online chats.
Kevin Crooks eventually invited her to get out of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and come for a date at Possum Kingdom, since folks were flocking to the lake at that time as a way to escape the confines of the city. He told her he had a three-bedroom condo at The Harbor and added that she was more than welcome to bring a change of clothes, since it would be a late-night drive back to her home in Saginaw.
â€œI never went back, and weâ€™ve been on our first date ever since,â€ Cheney Crooks said.
Fortunately for her, she was able to work from PK, and travel to his ranches out west. As their relationship began to take off, so did the activities at the lake, with 2020 being the year of the â€œnever-ending summerâ€ at PK.
In 2021, Kevin Crooks sold his condo, and the two of them stayed on his boat on the weekends, which is when they began looking for a house. With the help of local real estate agent Maggie Burgess, the couple found an 1,800-square-foot home on the south side of the peninsula that was nestled near a quiet cove and had mature oak trees on the property.
Pictured above:Â Kevin Crookâ€™s surprise proposal to Cheney along the banks of the North Wichita river that runs through their ranch.
Pictured above: The Crookâ€™s first official family photo. Nikki, Kevin, Cheney, Bristol (Christopherâ€™s girlfriend), Christopher, Ashley, Kelsi, Chance (Kelsiâ€™s husband)
Pictured above: Kevin and Cheney Crooks covered in red dirt riding around their ranch in Crowell, TX.
In December of that same year, Kevin Crooks invited his wife-to-beâ€™s family to Texas for their engagement, which took place by the river on his ranch. It was the culmination of their 18-month courtship, and Kevin Crookâ€™s whole family and Cheneyâ€™s dad knew what was happening, except for her mom. Her dad said his wife would cry tears of joy, if she knew in advance.
The couple expanded their 1,800-square-foot home into a 3,500-square-foot dwelling with the help of local contractor Mark Anderson, taking it from a modest lake cabin to one customized for entertaining. The two had planned to have their wedding at the house in September of last year, but when it came time for the wedding the renovations werenâ€™t complete. Their wedding ended up taking place at Lush Resort at Possum Kingdom Lake, and the guest list included more than 250 people from California, Idaho, Montana, Texas and Washington.
Pictured Above: Kevin and Cheney Crooks were married at sunset on the back of their boat facing Lush Resortâ€™s large balcony and lakeside deck. Pictured above are wedding guests enjoying the nuptials.
Kevin Crooks described the coupleâ€™s wedding weekend as â€œa perfect wedding weekend retreat.â€ They were married at sunset on the back of their boat facing the resortâ€™s large balcony and lakeside deck. Their 50-foot Sea Ray, named the â€œCantina Del Lago,â€ was the perfect backdrop for the lakeside wedding, with Randy Brown officiating and Sam Lewis providing the ceremonyâ€™s prayer and sermon.
Cheney Crooks has several connections in the music industry, and the coupleâ€™s reception was a party to be remembered, taking over the entire resort. It was a huge Texas country music â€œjam festâ€ featuring performers such as Austin Allsup, Zach Edwards, Blake Burrow, Randy Brown, Jordan Hendrix and Michael Webb. Lush Resort provided all the food for the guests, and the ladies from Two Old Crows came in with late-night appetizers at the end of the affair.
The couple said they are always ready for a good time, and theyâ€™ve become known for their party costumes. Whether itâ€™s Mardi Gras at PK, the neighborhood Oktoberfest or a themed party, such as a â€œRighteous Gemstoneâ€ soirÃ©e, the Crooks always are odds-on favorites to win â€œbest dressed.â€ They love to have a good time, and it shows.
â€œKevin is a good sport when it comes to dressing up for these lake parties,â€ Cheney Crooks said.
The couple finished the large addition to their home this Memorial Day weekend and are now enjoying the expanded space. The centerpiece of the house is the indoor-outdoor kitchen space that would be right at home on an episode of â€œFood Network.â€ The space features a sliding garage-style door that can be raised so the party is right at the shore of the lake.
The custom bar anchors the space with a high-end grill, and it even has space for Cheney Crookâ€™s favorite steamed hot dog machine, along with a commercial ice machine for the huge entertainment space.
Kevin Crooks’ three adult daughters, five grandchildren, and Cheney Crooksâ€™ adult son all love to bring their friends and family to the lake â€“ and between the coupleâ€™s 50-foot boat and their newly remodeled home, why would they want to go anywhere else?
May the good times that started with that first date never end.
Pictured below: Kevin and Cheney Crooks are always ready for a good time, and theyâ€™ve become known for their party costumes. Whether itâ€™s Mardi Gras at PK, the neighborhood Octoberfest or a themed party, such as a â€œRighteous Gemstoneâ€ soiree, the Crooks always are odds-on favorites to win â€œbest dressed.â€ They love a good time and it shows.