BUFFALO, NY (WBKW) — Buffalo businessman Mark Croce is being remember as visionary and Buffalo booster following Thursday night's tragic helicopter crash.
7 Eyewitness News spoke to two of his friends who were shaken by the news of his tragic death.
Friends say they will remember Croce as a businessman with passion, who took a risk on Buffalo development.
Others recall the man they shared a deep friendship with.
“I’ve shared a lot of good times with him. Birthday celebrations, family celebrations, the birth of his children. You know when he married his wife - I mean we have been friends for a long time,” declared Crystal People-Stokes, Majority Leader, New York State Assembly.
People-Stokes couldn’t hold back her tears as she described her long-time friendship with Croce and his family.
“It’s just a shocking thing to wake up to in the morning. Mark was a good man. He was a great friend of mine – I could call him any time,” remarked People-Stokes.
The assemblywoman was attending the Amherst Chamber of Commerce luncheon and state of the town address with a few hundred members of the business community
Chamber President and CEO AJ Baynes held a moment of silence to honor both men who died in the crash.
“And I would like to just have a moment of silence, if we could please,” Baynes asked the large crowd.
Baynes was also friends with Croce and even flew on his helicopter.
“he loved aviation. He loved flight. Anytime we would talk that was one of the conversations he would touch on,” recalled Baynes.
Baynes says it's a tragic loss for Croce's wife Jessica and their two children - Dominic and Dante.
“Mark was passionate about his family. He was passionate about aviation. He was passionate about Buffalo,” remarked Baynes.
Croce bought the mostly vacant Statler towers from the city in 2011, saving it from possible demolition.
He restored three of the landmark’s 19 floors. And turned the long-vacant Curtiss building a few blocks away into a boutique hotel and downtown dining destination.
‘He took a risk on the city of buffalo before others did. I think when you look at where he started, he was renting the first floor of the Coliseum – he was renting it – he didn’t even own the building. He rented it and was putting a nightclub in there it’s an incredible story,” Baynes replied
Peoples-stokes says when Croce had a plan he “saw it through.”
“He loved Buffalo and Buffalo loved him. And he will never, ever, ever be forgotten,” Peoples-Stokes reflected.