Fund Highlight: William Schwanfelder Fund

SchwanfelderWilliam Schwanfelder was born in Branford, Connecticut, the son of German descendant parents. William, a Branford resident for his entire life, had five siblings.

Bill attended Branford schools and was a frequent visitor to the James Blackstone Memorial Library. After graduating from Branford High School, he received an academic scholarship to Yale and worked to put himself through school. He graduated in 1944 from the school of engineering. Bill was always interested in aeronautics and, with some Yale classmates, he designed and produced the Corsair Folding Wing, which enables planes to land and park on aircraft carriers.

After graduating from Yale, Bill worked as a mechanical and hydraulic engineer. He became president and CEO of Eastern Industries in Hamden, a hydraulic company. Later, he started his own company, Fluid Tech-Burt Process, which is still operating.

For much of his life, Bill was active in several sports. He loved playing tennis, and for years played with Peter Borgemeister, his friend and a prominent citizen in town. Bill snow skied and learned to water ski. He loved ice skating, and boating with his friend, Paul Birbirie.

Bill was especially fond of spending time with his nieces and nephews, offering guidance and engaging them in stimulating conversations. He encouraged them to become involved in the community. He was very proud of nephew Kurt, and promoted his interest in politics.

Bill was a soft-spoken entrepreneur who felt that one should give back to his community. He always encouraged young people to do the same. With his brilliant financial mind and good heart, Bill gave his family good advice. He felt that it took an entire family to raise a child successfully. He taught them that they were raised with a good name and they should “keep it that way.”

After Bill’s death from pancreatic cancer at age 85 in 2008, his will proved how much he loved his hometown. To the James Blackstone Library, Bill donated to the Branford History Room which was dedicated to his parents. As a member of the Branford Land Trust, he left money for more open space. However, Bill Schwanfelder’s most endearing bequest was to the Branford Community Foundation in the amount of $100,000 to make our community better for all of its citizens. That is indeed “giving back.”

Above, Bill Schwanfelder at the marriage of his niece Liesel Schwanfelder and John Knowlton. Bill’s sister Roselin is on the left.