Family, students remember popular Douglas County teacher

GARDNERVILLE - At the white house on Deseret Drive, the trays of cookies, casseroles and vegetable platters were stacking up.

Every few minutes on Monday, the telephone rang, or friends stopped by to offer their condolences to Rommy Cronin, 38, and Mac, 10 and his little sister Ali, 7.

In the tight-knit community of teachers and students, word had spread that Marty Cronin - husband, father, teacher and debate coach - had died Friday of complications from a brain tumor. He was 48.

Cronin was diagnosed with brain cancer last summer. He gave up teaching for the first semester but was able to return in January on a limited basis.

Veteran teacher Randy Green taught in the same school with Cronin for 14 years.

"It's going to be something, not working across the hall from him," Green said. "There won't be many days that I won't think about him."

Cronin also managed Green's fall campaign in his bid for the Assembly seat held by Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick.

"I didn't run for the Assembly for Marty, but he was part of my decision," Green said. "He really loved all the things about campaigning, the polls, gathering the information. He was a great partner in that situation. Because all of this started last spring, we got to spend a lot of time together.

"We talked a lot and the thing that concerned him most was his children. He had some time to reflect and see what was really important in his life," Green said.

Green said he would miss the debaters congregating outside Cronin's classroom.

"I will miss the students talking to the walls," Green said. "And every time I hear somebody say, 'This dog don't hunt,' I'll think of Marty."

The Douglas debate team learned of Cronin's death while they were competing last weekend at a tournament in Berkeley, Calif. Teacher Karen Heine took over the debate team when Cronin became ill.

"We found out after we had just gotten out of the first round," said Paul Mileo, 19, a 2003 DHS graduate and volunteer coach. "Everyone was in tears and just heartbroken. It took some coaxing to get some of the kids to continue to compete. But that would have been the last thing he wanted. He never wanted to be the reason for the team to lose their morale."

Mileo, a film student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said Cronin was the smartest person he ever expected to meet in his lifetime.

As a freshman debater at Carson Valley Middle School, Mileo said, it took a year to overcome his fear of Cronin.

"He was a bear of a man, a large man and very forward," Mileo said. "I finally met him at the high school. He was our teacher, our coach and our mentor. He was our friend most of all."

Terry Hickman, president of the Nevada State Education Association, said Cronin served the agency for many years as a board member and representative for Douglas County teachers.

Cronin was president of the Douglas County Professional Education Association from 1994-2004.

"He was the brightest and most articulate member of the board," Hickman said. "He was someone I turned to many times for his opinion. His arguments were well thought out. I was always concerned when we disagreed."

Memorial service

A memorial service for Douglas High School teacher Marty Cronin will be 4 p.m. Thursday at Carson Valley United Methodist Church, 1375 Centerville Lane, in Gardnerville.


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