Small business owner dies of COVID-19 at age 77

Berkeley Brean
Updated: May 22, 2020 06:12 PM
Created: May 22, 2020 04:11 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Some of the saddest stories News10NBC has heard over the last two months are from the families who never got a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones before they died from COVID-19.

But even for the families that did, the circumstances they were faced with just compounded the tragedy. 


David Croop was married to his wife, Marilyn, for 40 years. He worked at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and enjoyed attending one of his daughter's high school volleyball games at Allendale Columbia.

"He used to cry at Lindsy's volleyball games," Marilyn said. "That's the kind of thing people didn't know about him. It was always, oh Dave, the big tough guy. He really was a teddy bear. He really was."

In the mid-'90s, Croop retired and started his own IT personnel business called Croop LaFrance. He also had a horse farm in Penfield. 

His daughter, Lindsy Bennage, says he was gentle and generous but quick with a comeback. 

"We used to go back and forth, and I'd always try to have the best last word, and he would beat me every single time," Bennage said.

In late-March, he started feeling sick, and this shows how quickly COVID-19 works. 

On Friday, April 3, he went to urgent care. On Saturday, he was in the hospital and tested positive for the virus. On Sunday, he was on oxygen in the ICU at Strong Memorial Hospital. On Monday, he died. 

Berkeley Brean, News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter: "You said your dad was a safe space. What does that mean?"

Stephanie Tongue, daughter: "Especially with the craziness of the world right now, he is who I would turn to. That's where I felt safest, protected. 

The day before he died, Croop's family dressed in protective gear and was allowed in the ICU to see him. 

"At the end, I just looked at him, and I said, 'Dad, I love you so much. You're the best father I could have asked for, and I'm so proud,'" Bennage said. "And he just looked right at me with tears in his eyes, and he said, I love you.'" 

Because of the virus, the visit was short. 

"But, yet I had to walk away," Marilyn said. "And you walk away knowing he's going to die alone."

She called it a good 40-year run with all kinds of laughs. The toughest part now is the silence. 

"It's just very hard to comprehend that this is a very, almost evil, cruel virus pandemic for so many people," Marilyn said. 

She had to be in quarantine herself for two weeks. 

Croop's family believes he was the 26th person in Monroe County to die from COVID-19.  More than 185 people in Monroe County have now died from the virus. 

David Croop was 77 years old. 

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