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Two police officers who persevered in face of life-threatening illness honored

Nassau County and Suffolk County police commissioners awarded two police officers with Theodore Roosevelt Police Association Awards in Oyster Bay on Thursday. (Credit: Newsday / Morgan Campbell, Shelby Knowles)

When Nassau County Police Det. Sgt. Craig Croly was in the hospital fighting for his life in 2013, his wife, Marde, stayed by his side day and night.

“I didn’t think she ever left,” Croly, 49, said Thursday, crediting his family, friends and colleagues for his return to full duty in 2015. “Every time I opened my eyes, it didn’t matter when it was, she was there by my bedside.”

Croly, who had been diagnosed with severe acute pancreatitis and underwent multiple surgeries, was one of two Long Island police officers honored Thursday at a ceremony in Oyster Bay that recognizes law enforcement officers who, despite having experienced serious illness or injury, returned to the job and continued to provide outstanding service. Croly and Suffolk County Police Officer Vincent Pelliccio, 28, who battled back from testicular cancer, were named the 2019 recipients of the Theodore Roosevelt Association Police Awards.

Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, who himself overcame debilitating asthma, the annual awards are presented to officers nationwide, said Tweed Roosevelt, chief executive officer of the association and the president’s great grandson.

Tweed Roosevelt, the officers’ families and friends, as well as police personnel, including Nassau and Suffolk’s police commissioners, gathered at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site to celebrate Croly and Pelliccio.

“Certainly, the two recipients today represent this icon of commitment police officers have to the public and their willingness to overcome extraordinary challenges to continue working as police officers,” Tweed Roosevelt told the crowd gathered under a white tent. “And, for that, we’re all very appreciative.”

Each officer received a bust bearing Theodore Roosevelt’s likeness during the ceremony at Sagamore Hill, the 26th president’s home from 1885 until his death in 1919.

The accolades, the officers said, belong to their families, friends and colleagues who were there for them in their time of need. They helped out in big ways and in small ways, whether it was Croly’s friend walking his dog or Pelliccio’s sister doing homework by his side to keep him company.

Despite a heavy workload that included a full-time job, an internship and graduate school, Pelliccio said, his sister found time to sit with him when he underwent chemotherapy in 2017 so he wouldn’t be alone.

“My family and the police department were there for me,” said Pelliccio, who returned to work in March 2018. “No matter how busy people’s lives were, they always made time for me, and I’ll be forever grateful.”

Theodore Roosevelt Association Police Awards recipients

Nassau County

1995 Det. Lt. Robert R. Reed

1996 Det. Lt. Eugene Dolan

1997 Deputy Chief Micael F. Miglino

1998 Officer Allan J. Wicklund

1999 Officer James R. Graham

2000 Det. Brian F. Sullivan

2001 Det. Patrick J. Bellotti

2002 Det. Lieutenant Eric Jenkins

2003 Officer Theresa Cronin

2004 Officer James Read

2005 Officer Lee Krill

2006 Sgt. Michael O’Mara

2007 Officer Michael Schmitt

2008 Officer Edward Hartmann

2009 Sgt. John Mateer

2010 Officer Sharon Galvin

2011 Det. Sgt. Carmine E. Soldano

2012 Officer Jeffrey Ferguson

2013 Officer Peter Chuchul

2014 Officer Stephen Conlin

2015 Officer Mohit Arora

2016 Officer Nicholas Brando

2017 Officer Joseph Avanzato

2018 Officer Richard Rothwell

2019 Det. Sgt. Craig Croly

Suffolk County

1995 Det. John P. Keane, Jr.

1996 Det. Robert T. Staab

1997 Lt. John J. Horan

1998 Officer Anthony T. Molfetta

1999 Det. James Hughes

2000 Officer Daniel Cunningham

2001 Officer Scott A. Farber

2002 Det. Robert J. Anderson

2003 Officer William R. Fairchild

2004 Officer Marlene Tully

2005 Officer Kathleen A. McGowan

2006 Det. Margaret Tatarian

2007 Det. Thomas McDougall

2008 Officer Kenneth Ripp

2009 Det. Robert Sehy

2010 Officer Michael Conklin

2011 Officer Thomas Wilson

2012 Deputy Inspector Kevin Fallon

2013 Det. Lt. Jack (John) Fitzpatrick

2014 Officer Thomas Tatarian

2015 Sgt. Andrew Kenneally

2016 Officer Mark Collins

2017 Officer Edward Gomez

2018 The late Det. William Maldonado

2019 Officer Vincent Pelliccio

Source: Theodore Roosevelt Association

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