Tuesday, April 23, 2024


William W. Mraz Sr. 85

William Watkins Mraz Sr. of Watertown, a foremer Westport resident, died March 25 in Waterbury. He was 85.

He was the husband of Madeleine A. “Queenie” (O-Connell) Mraz. He was born in Bridgeport, on Jan. 24, 1919, son of the late Wenczel and Jessie (Watkins) Mraz. He lived in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport until 1956, when he moved with his family to Westport, where he resided until moving to the Watertown area in 1987.

He graduated from Bassick High School and attended the University School (now the University of Bridgeport). He married Madeleine Anne O-Connell in Bridgeport, on Dec. 4, 1948.

An accomplished athlete, he played for the Bridgeport Tigers semi-pro football team and was offered a scholarship to Syracuse University at the outset of World War II. He chose to serve his country in the U.S. Army and was a World War II veteran.

In Westport, he was the owner of a business machines sales and repair store and was known locally as “the typewriter man.” He eventually retired after being employed by Litton Industries in Manhattan.

He was a member of the Westport Chamber of Commerce, and was a Westport Rotarian. He was instrumental in the Town of Westport’s purchase of Longshore Golf Club and served as the Longshore Men’s Golf Association’s first secretary and later served as its president in 1963.

During that time he was the founder of the Shoreline Public Links Golf Tournament, which is played annually each fall. An avid fly fisherman for more than 40 years, he was a member of Trout Unlimited, a national stream preservation association, whose mission is “to conserve, protect, and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds” and was a member of its Nutmeg and Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapters for many years.

As a member of the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited, he served as membership chairman and worked diligently to spread Trout Unlimited’s message and in engaging new members. He also served as president of Trout Unlimited’s Pomperaug Chapter and as membership chair for both the TU Connecticut Council and the Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter and increased membership significantly throughout the state.

He participated in numerous local projects for stream and river conservation and restoration and provided numerous education programs to local school children and the general public. He was also known as the “teepee man” by many school children for the 30-foot high Trout Unlimited teepee he erected on school lawns, and in which he conducted his educational programs.

He had painted a large mural around the teepee depicting fish, streams and the message of leaving a clean environment. School children will remember his saying “big or small, we protect them all.”

In the 1970s he volunteered his time demonstrating fly-tying technique at Abercrombie & Fitch in New York City, talking about fishing and fly-tying to any and all interested people.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years; his son, William W. Mraz Jr. and his wife, Shane, of Fairfield; five daughters: Jill Anne Graham of Miami, Fla., and her husband, Richard, Nancy Anne Mraz Chase and her husband, John, of Taylors, S.C., Patricia Anne Graves and her husband, Allan, of Newtown, Susan Anne Mraz Mungavin of Wappingers Falls, N.Y., and Jessie Anne Mraz of Tewksbury, Mass.; his brother, Louis Mraz of Inverness, Fla.; 14 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at First Congregational Church, 40 DeForest St., Watertown. Burial is private and at the convenience of the family. Friends may call at Hickcox Funeral Home, 195 Main Street, Watertown, on Monday from 5 to 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter Trout Unlimited, P.O. Box 100, Middlebury, CT 06762, or Hospice and Palliative Care of Connecticut, 237 East Aurora Street, Waterbury, CT 06708.

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