BERLIN – The school system is asking the community to support a local family following the sudden death of Worcester County Board of Education President Eric Cropper. He was 48.
Cropper, who was elected to the school board in 2014 and was currently serving as president, passed away suddenly July 30. The school system launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $25,000 to help his family. The outpouring of support led to the goal being revised to $35,000 within days of the campaign beginning.
“On behalf of our Board of Education, our faculty, staff, and students, we are heartbroken over the sudden loss of our Board president, Mr. Eric Cropper,” Superintendent Lou Taylor said in a statement. “Eric was part of the fabric of our school system long before he became a leader on our board. He was a graduate of our schools, a father to three children in our schools, a husband to one of our Central Office leaders, and he was a friend to everyone he met. Eric was a kind soul, who brought his love for our schools to life through his work on our board.”
Cropper, who was a licensed real estate agent specializing in commercial sales, was elected to represent District 6 on the school board in 2014. At the time, he said he ran for the position because he wanted to ensure the quality of the school system was maintained. He was committed to working with his fellow board members to keep students’ best interests at heart. Cropper was also active in his church, Taylorville United Methodist Church, and took pride in his family’s long history on the Eastern Shore. He leaves behind his wife, Bess, who is the resources and management and monitoring facilitator at Worcester County Public Schools, and three children. He was a 1990 graduate of Stephen Decatur High School.
“He has given so much of his time and effort to our schools, and he undoubtedly would have continued to do so,” Taylor said. “So, it is our hope that through the GoFundMe campaign, we can show his family just a bit of the kindness that Eric so willingly shared with our community.”
The campaign as of Wednesday morning had raised in excess of $25,000 through 200 donors. To donate, visit https://gofund.me/e57a00d3.
“The campaign has two goals: the first to help offset the funeral costs for Mr. Cropper’s family, and second, to honor his work in education, we hope to contribute toward scholarships for his three children to attend college,” Taylor said. “All proceeds will go directly to the Cropper family. We sincerely thank everyone who has already so graciously lent their support to the Cropper family, whether it be through donating, kind messages, or sending their love and prayers. We will continue to feel this loss for a long time to come, but we are grateful to see our community coming together in a way that honors Eric’s life and legacy.”
Other local officials also expressed their sadness following Cropper’s untimely death.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Worcester County Commissioners, Commissioner Chip Bertino said the community had sustained “a gut punch” with the passing of such an engaged, devoted individual. Bertino said Cropper gave his all for Worcester County.
“He was a good man and he’ll be missed,” he said.
Former Board of Education member Bob Rothermel served four years with Cropper on the board and reflected on a shared experience. In June, like Rothermel had done twice before with his own sons in years past as board chair, Cropper was able to congratulate his oldest son, Eric. Jr., on the Stephen Decatur High School graduation stage.
“Eric was a fine man. He was the epitome of a ‘family man,’” Rothermel said. “He beamed with pride about his wife and kids and thoroughly enjoyed community service. He was a local through and through and loved and cared deeply about our schools. He was exactly the type of person you would want representing our kids and their interests on the school board.”
Board of Education member Todd Ferrante, who was elected to replace Rothermel after he stepped down as Ocean City’s school board representative in 2018, said serving with Cropper over the last three years was a pleasure. Ferrante echoed many of Rothermel’s sentiments about Cropper.
“If there were more people like Eric Cropper in this world, the world would be a better place. He was always kind, respectful, polite and never confrontational,” Ferrante said. “Even when he disagreed with you, he did it in a kind, polite way. He will be missed by so many. He loved Worcester County Public Schools with all his heart. Seeing kids, and not just his own, flourish made him very happy. He beamed whenever he talked about his kids and his smile always lit up the room when he was talking about them. He was always full engaged with the school system and worked for the betterment of all 6,800 kids. It’s been a very difficult week thinking about his family and their loss.”
A funeral service will be held Friday, Aug. 6 at 11 a.m. at Taylorville United Methodist Church, 11252 Adkins Rd, Berlin, Md. 21811. Rev. Bill Littleton will officiate. Friends may call on Friday morning from 9-11 at the church.