WINNIPEG — Kroppy, the 98-year-old super fan of the Winnipeg Jets, passed away Tuesday according to a family friend.
Len ‘Kroppy’ Kropioski was a staple at Winnipeg Jets games and a beloved member of the community.
Kroppy became a household name for Jets fans after the club regularly featured him on the jumbotron during each home game.
He was a Second World War veteran and always proudly saluted while the anthem played.
Kroppy was hospitalized for about a month earlier this year due to health concerns but made a return to the team’s home games. Upon his return, the Jets honoured him with a standing ovation.
The standing ovation brought Kroppy to tears, as he blew kisses towards the thousands in attendance.
Anthem singer Stacey Nattrass has nothing but fond memories of Kroppy.
“Whenever I would run into him, we’d have a nice little ‘Hey, how are you doing?'” says Nattrass. “He’d say how much he enjoyed the anthem and I’d say how much I enjoyed having him there next to me, saluting. Having him there meant a lot to everybody and it certainly meant a lot to me.”
Kroppy drove out from Kenora for every game and the mayor of the northwest Ontario city, Dave Canfield, says everyone there loved him, too.
“He’s one of those guys who comes around once in a lifetime,” says Canfield. “He was so involved in sports and he so loved everyone hockey and baseball. He sponsored teams and helped kids out, just an amazing guy.”
The Winnipeg Jets released a statement regarding the death of Kroppy.
True North Sports + Entertainment and the Winnipeg Jets were greatly saddened when we learned yesterday afternoon of Len Kropioski’s passing. ‘Kroppy’ was the consummate hockey fan and his support of the team and the organization has always been genuine and pure, dating back to our time in the American Hockey League. His devotion to make the two-hour trip from Kenora to always ensure he was in his front row seat in time for the anthems demonstrated how passionate Winnipeg Jets fans can be.
Kroppy had a tremendous impact on the organization, particularly those who interacted with him and came to know his family well. He will be missed. We will now work to determine a proper way to honour and remember his unwavering support when we open the regular season on Oct. 13 vs. the Carolina Hurricanes. We would imagine his family is touched by the incredible demonstration of love exhibited by the Winnipeg Jets community in the past 24 hours. They had asked us for privacy to this point and we now ask the same for his family going forward. Thank you.
Going to miss you at our home games, but that seat in the corner will always be yours. Rest In Peace, Kroppy.— Blake Wheeler (@BiggieFunke) September 14, 2016
Wpg salutes Len Kropioski. Deepest condolences to family/friends. Thank you for inspiring all of us with your pride & your smile #RIPKroppy— Mayor Brian Bowman (@Mayor_Bowman) September 14, 2016
Deepest condolences to the family and friends of Len Kropioski. You will be missed! #RIPKroppy— Brian Pallister (@Brian_Pallister) September 14, 2016