William Henry Brakman, Jr.


Brakman_081514APhilanthropist, avid sailor and Port Washington resident William Henry Brakman, Jr., known to all as Bill, passed away Aug. 6. He was 86.

Bill was an avid sailor in the summer and a downhill skier in the winter. He raced various types of One-Design sailboats on the North Shore of Long Island and was a winning competitor. He started his racing career with the wooden hull Manhasset Bay One Design #11, “Tiger,” the boat named in memory of his time at Princeton.

As a dedicated member of Manhasset Bay Yacht Club (MBYC) for over six decades (Bill and Joan’s wedding reception was held at the club), Bill led many initiatives to develop programs to teach children and adults to sail.

He served with pride as Commodore of MBYC and created many successful sailing ventures for the club. In 2006, the Brakman/Schwarz Ideal 18 trophy was created by MBYC to honor Bill and Carl Schwarz for their contributions to Ideal 18 sailing. This year’s 2014 Race Week at MBYC is dedicated to Bill’s memory.

He also had a soft spot for youngsters. Bill also worked happily as a tireless volunteer for over a decade for the Port Washington HarborFest Model Boat Regatta. On race day each June, third graders from six Port Washington schools would launch their boats to Bill’s official start and count down.

Bill “was a true gentleman, with a kind heart and a deep caring about sailing and the bay,” said Andrea Watson, executive secretary of the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound.

“They just don’t make them like him anymore,” said Watson, who knew him for over 40 years.

Bill was born in New York City on Sept. 4, 1927. He was a graduate of Great Neck High School and attended Princeton University as a member of the class of 1949.

He left college and entered the Army as a member of the 511th Parachute Infantry Division, where he served during the occupation of Japan after the close of World War II.

He returned to civilian life in 1948 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia University in 1952. He joined the accounting firm Arthur Andersen (now Andersen Consulting), later moving to Peat Marwick Mitchell (now KPMG), where he was a principal in the New York City office and one of the early pioneers in the field of computerization and management consulting.

In his later years, Bill established his own consulting firm, Brakman & Associates, and also served as chief financial officer for The Mallon Company.

On April 27, 1957, Bill married Joan Vaughan Morel, who he met at the Great Neck Ski Club. According to Bill, he loved the tall brunette schoolteacher by their second date. They made their home first in Roslyn Heights, and later, Brookville. Bill and Joan had two children, William Henry, “Hank” and Sarah-Vaughan.

Bill and Joan continued their love of skiing through the years. They had a vacation home in Vermont where they welcomed family and friends for skiing vacations for many years. Bill shared his passion for skiing, as well as his passion for sailing, with his children, one of whom became an amateur junior racer.

Many of Bill’s happiest memories (in addition to sailing) were the family’s getaways in Vermont, where he insisted there would be no TV and only one phone. Bill loved skiing hard all day and then in the evenings, reading, playing cards and board games with his wife and children. Even when all that was at stake was winning at Clue, Bill played the same as he did anything: with seriousness of purpose, focused passion, joy and a great deal of humor.

Bill also gave generously of his time and talents to all who asked. He worked especially with Mommas House, a home for women and children in Jericho, where he provided computers and basic training to assist woman in crisis to develop their job skills so they could support themselves and their children.

Bill gave generously (and most often anonymously) to causes close to his heart and to his abiding Christian faith. One of the local causes he and Joan were devoted to was St. Francis Hospital.

Bill was also interested in supporting the sustaining presence of Christianity in the historic sites of the Bible. In 1985, he was invested as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. This is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives that are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. At the time of his death, Bill had attained the rank of Knight Commander.

To his family, and to all who knew him, Bill Brakman was a faith-filled, intelligent, extremely capable and truly humble man who loved deeply and had a zest for life. His goodness, kindness and ready humor were evident to all who met him and saw the twinkle in his eyes.

Bill is survived by his wife of 57 years, Joan, his son and daughter-in-law, Hank and Charlotte Brakman; and his daughter and son-in-law, Sarah-Vaughan Brakman and James M. Youakim; as well as by three beloved grandchildren.