Hope Crolley’s stepdad teased that her heart was so big, she loved the Vikings even when they were losing. Crolley knew the stats of every player and details of all the games.
“The first thing you noticed about Hope was her disability. The second thing you noticed was she had a huge heart,” said Bob Filipczak, her stepfather of 22 years. “Mentally, she was maybe 6 or 7. But emotionally, she was more sophisticated and had an intuition that was really sharp.”
Crolley died on Feb. 3 after falling in her Hopkins apartment and hitting her head. She never regained consciousness. She was 29 years old.
One year while she was growing up in Orono, counselors arranged for Crolley and some friends to meet with the Vikings. Afterward, all the talk was about the players.
“She explained to my sisters that ‘Cris and I are good friends.’ Well, it ended up being Cris Carter she was talking about,” Filipczak said. “My sisters are both crazy, bleed-purple Vikings fans. And they couldn’t believe it. She really knew them.”
Her father, Tim Crolley, remembers eighth-grade orientation. Teenage cliques repeatedly huddled closer as Hope approached. Unfazed, she moved from group to group until her sunny hello was finally welcomed. “A lot of people would have let it get them down. She would not,” her father said. “She was just not going to be around people and not have them be her friend. She had a jovial soul.”
By the time she graduated from Orono High School, she had won the heart of the school and become assistant manager of the soccer team.
“Anybody she saw who was not OK, she’d go over, try to take care of them. Give them a hug. Try to be there for them. That’s who she was,” he said.
After graduating, Crolley split her time between her parents’ homes in Kimball and Maple Plain. She watched cooking shows with her mom, Amy, who died of cancer in 2015. She watched Harry Potter movies with her dad and her doting uncle, William.
Her uncle, a mechanic, taught Crolley how to fix things — a talent that stunned her family. She hunted with her grandfather, carrying a bow and arrow. She emptied buckshot from family shotguns at the end of the hunts so the barrels could be properly cleaned.
To aid her journey toward independence, the family suggested she move into a group home. They said she was nervous at first, but when she heard there would be dances, she was all in. In 2013, Crolley moved into an apartment in a Fraser Supportive Living complex in Hopkins with a roommate.
With the help of Choice Inc., she worked on supervised crews across the Twin Cities. She cleaned churches in Edina and firehouses in Chanhassen, bussed tables at McDonald’s and assembled products at Fastenal.
“She liked working and being useful. And she really liked her team,” Filipczak said.
Raised to honor frugality, Crolley was a saver. Two years ago, she was forced to spend some money because she’d reached a $2,000 savings threshold. Exceeding it would have cut off some services she received from the county.
With a counselor’s help, Crolley bought a bed — the kind that elevated her head to help relieve her chronic acid reflux.
Crolley is survived by her father; stepfather; grandparents Bill Crolley and Barbara Crolley, Carolyn Dull and Dewey Dull, and an uncle, William Crolley.
Services were held at Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina, where she worked part time for five years. “Her smile and her joyfulness will be missed a lot,” said Janet Devine, the church’s administrative assistant.