Seven years ago today was the sudden and greatly unexpected death of my first cousin Roswell Brayton, Jr. As his sister Anne said: “He was the golden boy. Nobody expected him to die so young.” He was almost the same age as I when I had my heart attack – a few months after his 55th birthday.
Rozzie was the genuine athlete in the family. He was the star pitcher on his Harvard baseball team and made the Harvard Sports Hall of Fame. I guess he was also a fanatic golfer, as were many others of my Mother’s family. He had a wooden box full of score cards from every golf game he had ever played (over a thousand). It was buried with him in his casket. And since his father had lived until his early eighties, Rozzie had every expectation that he would do likewise. Nevertheless, he evidently had already planned that detail of his funeral.
The last time I saw him was on my 55th birthday, when I went with my sister Julie to the Annual Woolrich Stockholders' Meeting. It was the only one I have ever attended. (I don't think my Mother had ever missed one.) The primary reason I went is that I was on my way to the 90th Spizzwink(?) Reunion in New Haven and just happened to be East at the time. (Three Aprils ago I went to the 95th.) I took the above picture after the meeting.
The irony was, Rozzie died doing cardio in the company gym in Woolrich. I suppose the hard decisions he had taken to make Woolrich competitive to survive in the new global economy took its toll. As President and CEO of the family company, he had had to let go almost 80% of the US workforce. I’m convinced it killed him.
Rozzie's son Nicolas P. Brayton is the major stockholder and now president of Woolrich.