Never before have two individuals, from two different backgrounds, shared so intensely the same goal. One came from the coal mines of West Virginia, the other hailed from the outside city of Turners Falls, Massachusetts. One had a zest for challenges that persuaded the members of the Recreation Commission to hire him while the latter sized up activities for juveniles. For former recreation director and 1988 Branford Sports Hall of Famer Joseph Trapasso and tonight’s inductee Harry Brazeau, recreation became more than just a job – it became a way of life. Born in Turner Falls, Massachusetts on February 8, 1897, Brazeau was the son of Charles and Victoria Brazeau. He graduated from Turners Falls High School in 1918 and St. Mary’s College in Kansas. Long before he came to Branford, Brazeau was a headline in the sports pages of the Turner’s Falls paper. He excelled in all sports, including basketball, baseball, and football. Harry was well known for his game winning basket at the buzzer as he was knocked to the gymnasium floor to win a game while playing for Turners Falls in Hibernian Hall.
He joined the Navy in World War I before he turned to community services and recreation. Ironically, Brazeau was hired by Turners Falls about the same time an individual by the name of Dave Kilgore was heading the Community Council in Branford. In some unexplained manner, Kilgore and Brazeau decided to change jobs and youth athletics and other activities began to shape up. Children who never had the opportunity to participate in activities now had that chance. Brazeau organized sports programs for kids from first to eight grade and set up the first leagues in basketball and baseball involving kids from grammar schools such as Center School, Harbor Street, Laurel Street, Stony Creek, and Short Beach schools. Baseball was played at Hammer Field. With the combination of Brazeau and 1988 Branford Sports Hall of Fame inductee John Knecht, Jr. during the late 1920’s sports in the town put Branford on a new high level in the Connecticut sports world. Harry was popular with the businessmen in town as well. His annual aquatic meets were testimonials of the affection he held for the citizens and were financially secured by business contributions. Brazeau also organized field day events for the town’s youth. Sadly, Brazeau, his wife, Priscilla, and their two daughters moved to Philadelphia where he worked as the recreational director of the Smith Memorial Playground in Philadelphia. Brazeau passed away at the age of 61 on January 8, 1959.
“He was an outstanding recreation director, the best we ever had. Harry was well-loved and well-respected. He was admired not only by the kids but by the adults. Harry was extremely popular with the townspeople. A tremendous, warm, devoted individual. This award is the greatest thing that could have happened in his life. He loved Branford. This is the ultimate honor for Harry Brazeau,” said Joe Trapasso.