Friends recall William I. Navratil as music lover with a giving spirit
May 26, 2012 at 12:26 a.m.
Updated May 27, 2012 at 12:27 a.m.
The Crossroads struck a sad note Friday as the music community lost one of its own.
William I. Navratil died after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 81.
The father of three was the third-generation owner of Navratil Music Co., a 101-year-old business that got its start in Brenham. He took over the endeavor his grandfather began in 1957.
Robert Rodriguez worked with Navratil for 26 years as the music store's sales manager. He recalled Navratil as a giving man who did whatever he could for customers who came in.
"He would go overboard for them and do things other people wouldn't have done," he said Saturday. "He gave a lot of himself."
Navratil was a good boss, he added, noting that he was there to help when employees needed it, but didn't get in the way.
While Navratil loved his business, Rodriguez said it was the music itself that really struck a chord.
"Music really was his first love," he said.
That love of all things lyrical was a constant source of conversation between Navratil and Harold Tiemann, who owns Tee's Music House. Although competitors in the business world, the two men were close friends.
"We probably spoke every day. At least three or four times a week," Tiemann said. "We'd sit down and hash stuff over - how stuff was different now, what was going on in the stores, things like that."
Tiemann remembered Navratil as an outstanding trumpet player who shared his talents with community bands in Edna and Victoria. He also played during his time with the United States Air Force.
"He was a fine man," he said.
Norman Sendt played alongside Navratil in the Victoria band Sound of Swing and also worked with him for a number of years at the music store. When Sendt went into the piano tuning and repair business on his own, he said he kept in touch almost daily with his old friend.
Like Rodriguez, he remembered the generosity his former boss showed customers at the store.
At times, he said, Navratil was almost too generous.
"Sometimes people wouldn't pay and he'd let them slide by," Sendt said. "He was always trying to do favors."
In early April, one Victoria organization repaid the favor.
Victoria County Relay for Life awarded Navratil a "hope" medal in recognition of his fight against colon, liver and lung cancer. The group presented the award at Navratil's home, rather than the April 27 Relay for Life event, in case he was unable to attend the event.
Sendt said the community lost a lot when it lost Navratil.
"He was a very good man," he said. "We're going to miss him."