Walter Alexander Krozel passed away at Buffalo General Hospital December 18, 2012 following a severe stroke he suffered while a resident at the VA hospital in Batavia. Born on March 27, 1915 in Columbia, CT, Walt was truly a member of what Tom Brokaw described as the "Greatest Generation".
Walt, the youngest of nine children of immigrant parents, graduated from Willimantic High School in 1933. He attended Connecticut State College (now UCONN), and played varsity football for Coach Orlean Christian. Coach Christian recognized Walt for knowing and having the ability to play at any position on the team.
Walt's business career started when he ran a "trap line" on his walk to grammar school. He helped with the family farm and held numerous odd jobs to earn spending money while attending public school until he graduated at the height of the Great Depression. He drove various delivery trucks, held construction jobs, and worked as a night watchman, attempting to fund his college courses when it was possible. He secured a job with SOCONY Vacuum and moved to Syracuse, NY. While working full time, he earned his private pilot's license, and became a member of the Civil Air Patrol.
When the United States entered World War II on December 7, 1941, Walt enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was sent to Arcadia, FL for flight training. While in training, Walt met Margaret Cato, an Arcadia school teacher. After a short courtship they eloped to Dothan, AL, becoming husband and wife on July 25, 1942. Walt soon earned his pilot's wings and a commission as 2nd lieutenant. Walt and Margaret moved to Langley, VA, where he was assigned to a B-24 Liberator Squadron. In November 1942, Walt's squadron was among the first Liberator squadrons to fly the Atlantic for duty at St. Eval Field, Cornwall, England. He flew several anti-submarine missions over the Bay of Biscay. On January 10, 1943, while waiting to take off for a mission, fully loaded with fuel and depth charges, a British Whitley bomber collided with Walt's Liberator causing a fire and explosion. Six airmen were killed and ten were severely injured, including Walt. Margaret, at home and pregnant with their first child, received a War Department telegram stating that Walt had been killed in action. Several weeks passed before the error of this report was corrected. Though badly burned, Walt, heavily bandaged, managed to return to Margaret's side for the birth of their "little pilot" Alexandra Gail Krozel. During his recuperation, Walt made radio and other public appearances to help sell War Bonds. More recently, Walt made an annual appearance in Medina's Memorial Day Parade. Medina's residents will remember Walt in uniform riding in the Albone's Rumble Seat or his golf cart every year through last year's 2012 parade.
After the war,Walt returned to his job with Mobil Oil. Walt and Margaret moved to Rochester, NY. In 1952, Walt, ever the entrepreneur, moved Margret and his three small children to Kendall, NY, to operate a small hardware store he had purchased. Dissatisfied with the pace, a year later Walt purchased a movie theater in Holley, NY, and converted it to a warehouse. This established the plumbing and heating wholesale business, Territory Wholesale Supply, Inc. TWS, a successful business, grew over the years to have multiple branches operating throughout Western NY, employing as many as 60 people. In 1975, Walt and Margaret moved to Medina, NY, the TWS headquarters. With Walt's direction as President, and Margaret as Secretary-Treasurer, the company introduced mobile radio communication and computerized business management. TWS supplied their employees with health insurance, profit sharing and savings plans, and a college tuition program. Walt participated in every aspect of the business: making deliveries, working the counter, putting up stock, making sales and purchasing calls. Family activities on weekends and evenings were frequently interrupted when Walt opened the warehouse or made on-site trouble shooting calls to assist customers. TWS was widely recognized as an example of what is exceptional about American small business.
Walt's community service included coaching junior league baseball and being a volunteer fireman in Holley, active membership and past president of both Holley and Medina Rotary Clubs, American Legion, and membership in and Elder of Presbyterian churches in Holley and Medina.
Walt, preceded in death by his beloved Margaret, is survived by his three children, Gail Younker of Rochester, NY, Amy Herbert of Montgomery, NY, and Kenneth M. Krozel of New Harmony, IN; nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 2 PM on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at First Presbyterian Church, Main St., Medina, followed by inurnment with military honors at Boxwood Cemetery in Medina under the auspices of Butts-Clark Post #204, American Legion and Lincoln Post #1483, VFW. A gathering of family and friends to celebrate the life of Walter Krozel will follow the services at the family home. Expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to First Presbyterian Church, Medina or Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina. Arrangements were completed by the Cooper Funeral Home, Medina.
Visit www.journal-register.com/obituaries for online guest register.