When extraordinary West Plains High School graduates come to mind, Crockett Oaks III is at the top of the list. Oaks was named Distinguished Zizzer Alumnus at the 2022 West Plains High School graduation held Monday.
From early on, Oaks showed distinct character traits, which propelled him toward a remarkable globetrotting career and successful family life.
“Every kid in school wanted to be his best friend — he was loved and admired for his spirit and kindness," recalled his second-grade teacher at Foster Elementary School. “He always looked out for others and lifted them along the way. Even then, it was clear he was a natural leader.”
Another lifelong friend remembers that while playing sports in early elementary school and in the neighborhood, it was evident Oaks was going to do big things. He became focused on football during high school, which opened many doors for him. A college football scholarship eventually took Oaks way from West Plains. He was soon commissioned as a military officer, earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, and sought an early career in law enforcement in Oklahoma.
He later served as a distinguished special agent with the FBI for about seven years, specializing in investigating complex white-collar crime matters. Internationally, the Distinguished Zizzer lived and worked in the Netherlands, Nigeria and Ukraine while maintaining a home base in Texas with his family. He rose to the senior executive ranks of Shell Oil Company, where he served about 13 years as the lead security executive for Shell Western Hemisphere.
For more than 33 years, he served various roles as an Army Reserve officer. He most recently served as Missouri’s Emergency Preparedness liaison officer and currently holds the rank of colonel.
A few years ago, he mentioned his plans to return to be near family to a longtime family friend. He remarked that his experience around the world underscored how good things are right here in West Plains. After returning to Missouri in recent years, he served with the state’s probation, and parole office and later was appointed as chief investigator for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office.
Finally, he is back home, where he continues his leadership role as the director of business and support services for Missouri State University-West Plains.
“His career accomplishments and service to the country are awe-inspiring and appreciated,” said West Plains R-7 School Board President Jimmy Thompson while presenting Oaks with the recognition. “He’s a devoted husband, father, son, brother and uncle. Let’s add that he’s a wonderful citizen and friend to our entire community.”
“Oaks exemplifies what it means to be a Zizzer,” Thompson concluded. “Without a doubt, he is an inspiration and exemplifies the highest traits of Zizzer character.”
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