That day in late November, I was checking in on some NI advertisers and I’d heard Bill Swoger, owner/operator of Cropper’s Nogales Autocenter, had been feeling under the weather.

I went into his office and he confirmed he was “battling something,” but said he was feeling better. His demeanor was one of confidence and his usual bright eyes belied what was really going on.

With his wife Tina and family members by his side, Bill died on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, a victim of an aggressive form of muscle cancer known as rhabdomyosarcoma.

Since mid-November, I’d been browsing for a Chevy truck. Sales manager Omar Garcia happened to show me one that I fell in love with. The problem was that Cropper’s was under factory obligation to provide it as a rental for a certain period, which had not yet expired. I told Bill I’d wait.

“That truck is yours if you want it, Manny,” he said. He remained true to his word, even though Omar tells me there were other offers. I took possession on my birthday, Dec. 10.

The Croppers and Bill were friends long before my stint as publisher. Folks at Croppers were loyal customers at the restaurant I owned located just north of the dealership. Gary Cropper even had wrought iron stairs and a gate built from his property to the parking lot of the restaurant. They would regularly send customers down to my place while they waited for car repairs, and I catered a few events at the dealership.

Bill was also my neighbor when I lived on Rio Rico Drive. It seemed he was always out working on his yard or house. My sons loved the model train set he displayed in his back yard.

“Swogey,” an advocate of supporting local businesses and a community philanthropist, was low-maintenance as an advertiser and a friend. Sure, there were times when his temper would flare because of a mistake on an ad or some such thing. But in the end, it was the relationship that he valued and he quickly recovered.

His NI ad rep for nearly 19 years was Carmen Ibarra, and the two were practically in lockstep for the various campaigns they developed together. Bill once threatened to cut off all advertising if Carmen were to leave the paper. He was loyal more to Carmen than the newspaper.

There was one thing we could never get him to do, though. Sign a contract – any contract. Fortunately, he was a man of his word. That’s a trait that is hard to find. The pickup I drive now is just a small testament to this virtue.

Nogales is going to miss you, Bill.

The family requests donations in Bill’s memory to the American Cancer Society. To designate the funds specifically for rhabdomyosarcoma research, the ACS suggests calling 1-800-227-2345 or mailing your check to American Cancer Society at P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK., 73123-1718. Write “Rhabdomyosarcoma research” in the memo line.

If you wish to send a card to the family, or for ACS to send an acknowledgement card to them, the mailing address is 388 Rio Rico Dr., Rio Rico, AZ 85648.

(Coppola is publisher of the Nogales International.)

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