Daniel Cruz’s funeral service was held Monday night in the Rockaways, where he grew up. A loving crowd of about one hundred friends and family members filled the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church to celebrate Danny’s life of forty years.
Cruz was left on life support following an asthma attack on May 28th. He lived with his wife and three daughters at 16 Mill Street in the Red Hook Houses. He was feeding dinner to his children when he gasped for breath and told his wife, Tynisha Rogers-Cruz to call 911. By the time an ambulance showed up to take him to Methodist Hospital, his brain had died due to lack of oxygen. He was kept alive until May 30th, as he was a registered organ donor so in death he has saved others.
Danny was an ardent sports fan. Lying in state, he was wearing a Yankees hat and jersey, his hands clutching a baseball stamped with the Yankee logo.
Crystal Riddick read statements from cards the family had received, including one from Peggy Wyns-Madison, principal of Red Hook’s PS 15.
His sister-in-law, Latisha Rogers, read his obituary. It was a heartwarming statement of his life, and included “His family was everything to him and you would never see him without one or all of his daugthters’s by his side. He was not just their father but their constant companion, their protector and their world.”
Sister Marcy spoke lovingly of her brother. She recalled their frequent car rides together. He loved driving, and loved Honda vans. Family photos were flashing throughout on two television screens on the back wall of the church, and one of them showed Cruz beaming behind the wheel of a silver Honda van. Marcy said that normally she wouldn’t be happy driving in an open car with her hair blowing all over, but with her brother that was just fine. She recalled one time when they sat by the side of the road with a flat tire. She said that her brother was too cheap to pay for Triple A, so they just waited for somebody to come by with a jack they could borrow. After a while he asked Marcy if maybe she could pray to speed up the process. All of a sudden, a man wearing white stopped and pulled out a gold jack from a case. Danny’s eyes lit up in amazement, and he looked at his sister and asked her to pray for a winning lottery ticket!
Marcy told about how she had lost the two leading men in her life in just three years. Their father, Danny Sr., passed away in 2011. Without breaking down, she explained how her brother Danny was her rock, made her feel safe, and would show up whenever she needed help with anything. “I was lucky to have those 40 years,” she said. “Danny was my younger brother – I was the luckiest sister in the world.”
She ended by telling her brother that she would see him “on the next road trip.”
Reverend Darren A. Ferguson opened and closed the ceremony. His closing was rousing, introducing religious themes with simple street talk that everyone could understand. Looking at Danny’s family, he spoke of his own loss. His wife had died at the age of 42, over ten years ago. Dying of cancer, she made him promise that he would remarry someday. He protested, but afterwards he realized that while she would never leave his heart, in her love she wanted him to move on. He did in fact sport a large gold band on his ring finger, so probably he has.
He told everyone in the room that a funeral is not a family reunion. In other words, it is everyone’s responsibility to be there for the Cruz family. Not that Mrs. Rogers-Cruz will not be able to bring up her daughters, but a man’s voice is also important.
A theme of the evening’s service was not the untimely loss of Danny Cruz, who had just turned 40, but the gift that God has given his family and friends by his life.
Among the guests was local Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who greeted the family along with everyone else. After the ceremony he told the Star-Revue that an investigation into the circumstances involving the death is being undertaken by NYC Public Advocate, Letitia James, as well as lawyers hired by the family. He also expressed a continuing interest in starting a local volunteer ambulance service, an idea expressed at an emergency neighborhood meeting held last week.
Daniel Cruz was buried Tuesday morning, June 10th, at Cypress Hills Cemetery, baseball in hand.