Earl Fray Croll
August 13, 1927 - March 24, 2020
He came into this world on August 13, 1927 in Wimauma, Florida to Edna Mae and Henry Fray Croll. Born at home he weighed just 3 lbs. 4 oz. and my grandmother was told by the doctor not to bother naming him because he would not live, so his birth certificate simply stated Baby Croll.
The hot humid summers of Florida served as a natural incubator and helped Dad's struggling young body to survive and his lungs to breathe. Grandma tended him night and day, as he lay swaddled in a dresser drawer to stay warm. I remember her telling me, "I named him Earl immediately despite what the doctor said, because I knew he had to live. I couldn't just leave him unnamed in that bed to die." The doctor had not counted on Dad's or Grandma's stubborn streak, will power, and determination. Dad thrived and was later officially named Earl Fray Croll.
Dad was proud of his service in the Navy during WWII and loved to share stories both of his service and that of others. When he returned home after the war he attended college and graduated from Eastern Michigan University as a teacher. He married Greta Louise Chappell on August 23, 1948. They had three girls Sue, Debbie, and Louise. They married and had families of their own as time continued to fly by. Dad always loved to see his grandchildren (7) and great-grandchildren (10).
Dad was man of many talents beyond his educational career. Over the years he built 23 houses, could fix most anything, gardened and painted 100's of paintings. In later years he continued painting even from his wheelchair.
It is strange watching how life unfolds. This tiny premature infant born in the Florida heat fought with pure determination to live to the very end. He should have died more times than I can count in the course of his lifetime. Finally, he was too tired to fight anymore. The night before he died he told my mother he was very sick and would not make it this time. He told her he was very tired and needed to sleep and said, "I love you. Good night." That was the last they spoke.
The next morning we watched to see if he might breathe again, knowing all the while he would not. He laid still and calm, his face looking younger than it had for a while now that he was no longer struggling. I sensed my Grandmother's presence and later upon reflection realized she was there to tell him it was okay to stop fighting, to just breathe out one last time, as she had told him to breathe in so many years ago.
Until we meet again all peace and love.