Catherine Kropa, a wife and mother of four remembered most for her unwavering care and support of her family, died Sunday.
Kropa, of Mastic Beach, died of congestive heart and renal failure on Mother’s Day at the Affinity Skilled Living and Rehabilitation Center in Oakdale, where she was seeking medical care alongside her husband of more than six decades. She was 86.
Born in Brooklyn, Kropa lived most of her childhood in Queens, said one of her daughters, Karen Laliberte, 64, a retired substitute teacher from Carver, Massachusetts. At the age of 20, Kropa met her soon-to-be-husband, John Victor Kropa, who was 23 at the time, at a dance in a church basement in the New York City borough.
The two moved to Suffolk County after they wed and lived in several communities — including Babylon, Central Islip, Islandia and Port Jefferson Station — before moving to their last home in Mastic Beach, where they spent the past five years together, Laliberte said.
Kim Smith, 44, of Mattituck, a former Newsday copy editor who now works as a commercial litigation attorney, remembered her mother’s proud moments as a saleswoman for Avon products. Her career spanned more than 45 years, with her performance earning her recognition during the company’s annual award ceremonies.
“She was always there to support us,” Smith said. “I appreciate it. It wasn’t always easy for her to get out of the house with one of my brothers, who was autistic.”
Her daughters said their mother’s dedication to attending Smith’s Little League games fueled her mother’s interest in baseball, leading her to become an avid Mets fan who would consistently catch the games on television.
“She was a very devoted mom,” Laliberte said. “She always kept as we were growing up a nice home, she always had meals on the table. She was very supportive of her children’s activities: softball, dance lessons, Cub Scouts.”
In her spare time, Catherine Kropa enjoyed crocheting and reading mystery novels and contemporary literature. She had moved into the nursing home alongside her husband earlier this year, but continued to extend her trademark support in their final weeks together.
“While they were both in the same nursing home together,” Smith said of her parents, “they were very supportive and caring to each other.”
Kropa also is survived by a son, John, of Alabama and four grandchildren. Her son Paul died two years ago.
A wake was held Wednesday at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead. She was buried Thursday at Calverton National Cemetery.