I’ve known Bob Crocco for most of the 17 years that I’ve been covering news in Orange.
My first memory of him is hearing his voice, that wonderful jovial voice at the Orange Volunteer Firemen’s Carnival, “50/50 Raffle, come on folks, last call for the 50/50 raffle.” and I’d watch people flock over to the raffle booth as the jackpot soared.
He was and always will be “the voice” of the Orange Volunteer Firemen’s Carnival. He worked hard on the Special Events Committee planning the Summer Concerts year after year. He did it for the love of the town and kept his frustration to himself when someone else took all the credit.
Bob had a passion for the New York Yankees and the yearly cruises he took with his family.
He adored his wife, Diane and three children, Lexi, Stefanie and Robbie, and cherished all their time together.
I remember seeing Bob at Costco one afternoon, soon after I had my first stroke. He asked how I was feeling and what the doctors planned to do. I told him that I was scheduled for surgery and he wished me luck.
I noticed how thin he looked, I’d heard of the gastric bypass surgery he’d had, but had to ask if he was feeling well. He confided that he was going in for tests to see if he had ALS, (Lou Gherig’s Disease).
I remember the sinking feeling I had, looking at my friend and hoping beyond all hope that the tests came out negative for ALS, knowing what a cruel disease it is — being trapped inside your own body with nothing but your brain functioning normally.
The next time I saw Bob, I asked about the test results and he broke the devastating news to me. His greatest fear was losing the ability to speak.
For the next couple of years he tried to stay positive, vowing to fight until the end.
Last year, firefighter Leo Moran asked if I would step in and announce for the carnival in case Bob couldn’t do it. I agreed, on the condition that Bob would be there with me. He was wheelchair bound, couldn’t hold the microphone, and his voice was very weak, but he gave me tips and I held the mike for him so he could announce as much as possible. Even in his diminished capacity, Bob never gave up, coming to the carnival every day with his family and helping me learn the ropes.
This year was more difficult. Bob had lost his voice and for the first time since he was a child, almost missed the carnival.
Modern technology gave him a chance to speak to loved ones with the use of a eye scan computer program. He’d look at the keyboard and “Type” words out, then on command the computer would speak for him.
Bob stayed in touch with other ALS victims and kept the hope that someday lawmakers would get their heads out of dark places and allow stem cell treatments in the USA — treatments that have turned other ALS patient’s lives around.
Bob died in his sleep this morning, Oct. 8.
I could write volumes about Bob Crocco, but, frankly, I am simply devastated and just can’t get the words to come together.
“Bob did so much for the town and everyone he met. He is in a better place now. ” Mitch Goldblatt said, “It’s hard when bad things happen to good people.”
I loved Bob, his spirit, the joy he exuded, his talents and oh, that voice.
I’ll miss you my friend, I wish you peace, and my only consolation is knowing that you are finally free again.
Diane, Lexi, Stefanie and Robbie, thank you for sharing him with everyone. We all feel your loss.
The wake will be Thursday at West Haven Funeral Home from 3-8pm.
The funeral will be at Holy infant on Friday at 11am.