Kerry Croswhite, who spent the 15 years as the head swim coach and assistant softball coach at Chandler High School, passed away July 21 after nearly a month-long battle with COVID-19. He was 61.
“This is a hard one,” his wife, Laurie, wrote in her online Caring Bridge journal, where she kept regular updates. “Kerry lost his battle at 6:01pm this evening. He fought so hard.
“The song ‘These Are the Days’ by Van Morrison was playing on his Pandora when he passed. Think of him whenever you hear it.”
Coach Croswhite had become a staple in the prep swimming community in Arizona during his 15 years leading the Wolves. He coached at Highland High School for a number of years before Chandler and had his own swimming career at Western State University.
He was also well-known for his bagpipes, which he played before every competition while leading his team on to the pool deck and at events across the Valley.
But his love and admiration for his swimmers endeared them to him.
During a swim practice in 2008, Coach Croswhite jumped into the water to save one of his swimmers that had a seizure and was at the bottom of the pool. His quick action saved her life.
“One of the gals had epilepsy and had a seizure,” Laurie said in an interview on July 13. “He noticed she was at the bottom and wasn’t playing around. He jumped in and got her out.”
Students, administrators and those representing other programs took to social media July 21 when word of his passing spread.
Many posted pictures of Coach Croswhite, all of which he had a smile on his face. Several others posted heartfelt messages for Laurie and the rest of his family.
“This is a devastating loss for our community,” Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director David Hines tweeted.
“Kerry Croswhite, an incredible husband, father, friend, teacher, coach and mentor passed away this evening,” the official Twitter account for Chandler High athletics tweeted. “The Chandler High community will truly miss a man who truly impacted so many and was always willing to go out of his way to help others. RIP Kerry Croswhite.”
Coach Croswhite began feeling ill with a fever, chills and body aches on June 22 – the day after Father’s Day. Out of precaution, he isolated himself in the bedroom of their home and was given Tylenol and vitamins.
He received a COVID-19 test from his doctor shortly after symptoms began. The test came back negative. But on June 30, he told his wife he could feel the illness had moved into his chest and his cough was becoming worse.
Using a home monitoring device, Laurie found her husband’s oxygen levels had dipped into the 80s. Typically, levels should remain in the high 90s.
Coach Croswhite first went to a Valley hospital on July 1 but was released 45 minutes later after his oxygen level rose. Laurie chose to keep the name of the first hospital they went to private.
On July 3, his oxygen dipped again, and he was admitted into Banner Desert where he received a positive test for the virus. He was placed on a BiPap machine before being moved to the ICU on July 7 and put on a ventilator the next day.
“He was reluctant to go to the hospital the second time because he was afraid of being sent home again,” said Laurie, who was unaware of where her husband may have contracted the virus and tested negative herself. “But he knew he needed to go because each day was getting worse.”
Coach Croswhite showed signs of improvement up until the morning of July 17, when nurses called Laurie and the rest of the family to the hospital as he was declining quickly. The family rushed to the hospital knowing that might have been their last chance to say goodbye.
However, Coach Croswhite continued fighting despite possible damage to his kidneys, lungs, heart and brain.
According to journal posts from Laurie, her husband had become unresponsive as his condition continued to fluctuate. At times, his oxygen and other health indicators would remain stable. However, there were also times they would fluctuate, and his condition would worsen.
Laurie and his family were called to the hospital a second time July 21 and at that time doctors informed them there was nothing left they could do medically.
“We stayed at his bedside to assure him he was so brave and has fought so hard and how proud we are of him,” Laurie wrote. “We were able to share how much we love him, and he will always be with us. We told him again about the amounts of people that have been praying of him. He knows he is truly loved.”
A GoFundMe to help with the family’s medical costs was set up by Laurie’s sister, Megan Jarvis July 9 and within hours, thousands of dollars had been raised.
As of July 21, nearly $50,000 had been donated to the family.
“We could not have made it this far without all of you and your prayers,” Laurie wrote. “We are so broken, but we will be okay. Toast a scotch to Kerry.”
Coach Croswhite is survived by his widow, Laurie; sons Kassidy Steele Croswhite and his wife Morgan, Kagan James and his wife Claire Ann Lunden and Dusten Derek; daughters Ky Brittany and Bristyn Steele; three grandchildren;
sisters Pamela (Dave) Croswhite-Yocom, Melissa Croswhite, Vanessa (Randy) Crosswhite-Keller and DeeDee (Dwayne) Croswhite Palmer; and a brother, Joddy (Beth) Croswhite.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William D. Croswhite Jr. and Barbra Steele Croswhite. And brother William D. (Suzanne) Croswhite III.