Lillian Bradford Croy was born in 1912 in the small town of Melfa on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and moved to Washington, D.C., when she was 6. A longtime resident of Vienna, she died at her home on Friday, Jan. 16. A service to celebrate her life took place Jan. 21, at Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, where she had been a member for more than 50 years.
Croy — a wife, mother and grandmother — was remarkable for many things, not the least of which was her liberated and bold entrepreneurial spirit, which manifested itself before the time women would have been recognized as initiators of business ideas. Croy's vision for a business was expressed with no thought of her own gain but as a charitable gift to others. As chair of the Ways and Means Committee of the Episcopal Church Women of Church of the Holy Comforter, she conceived the idea of a thrift shop as a fund-raising endeavor for the church and a service to the community. In 1961, that thrift shop opened, and in 1965 it was moved to the corner of Mill and Church streets in Vienna, where it operates today as Pennywise.
Croy's brain child, Pennywise serves as a means of fellowship and community service for its all-volunteer staff and has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund projects for Church of the Holy Comforter and to fund contributions to local charities. Croy continued to work at Pennywise through the years and to guide the shop through many periods of growth. She was always ready to greet volunteers and customers with a warm smile and kind words.
Croy also served as a member of the Fairfax County School Board and was an active quilter, who made hundreds of quilts, wall hangings, pillows and dolls — all by hand.
In celebrating her life, the Rev. Rick Lord said, "Lillian Croy has left a legacy of creativity and generosity. This community is a better place because of her vision and passion."
Croy was preceded in death by her husband, Dewey Croy, and she is survived by a son, Richard Croy, and two grandchildren, Suzanne Croy and Matthew Croy.