NAUGATUCK — George Krodel, a longtime leader within the Naugatuck Republican Party and a dedicated public servant, died following an apparent heart attack he suffered at Naugatuck Town Hall on Monday. He was 72.
Krodel was standing at the Building Department on the third floor about 2 p.m. when he started experiencing shortness of breath, grabbed his chest and then fell backward, said M. Leonard Caine III, Krodel’s attorney who was with him at the time. He called out for Caine, who tried to keep him upright before Krodel fell to the floor.
Janice Dambowsky, an administrative assistant in the mayor’s office, and William Herzman, the building official and a volunteer firefighter in Cheshire, provided CPR and used a defibrillator in an attempt to resuscitate Krodel, Caine said.
“They did a great job,” Caine said of their efforts.
He said Krodel appeared to regain consciousness but apparently stopped breathing again when EMTs were taking him to an ambulance.
EMTs from the Naugatuck Ambulance Association provided CPR and took him to a hospital where doctors pronounced him dead a short while later.
Krodel, who was involved in local real estate, was a stalwart within Naugatuck politics between the 1970s and 1990s. He was a leader within the Republican Party, and served six terms as a burgess and two terms as a member of the Board of Education.
He had not been directly involved in politics within the past 10 to 15 years, but was active on various campaigns. He was a big supporter of his longtime friend, N. Warren “Pete” Hess, a Democrat and the borough’s current mayor.
“When you look up the word loyal in Webster’s dictionary, you should see a picture of George Krodel,” Hess said. “He was one of my first clients (as an attorney), and he was a great man. He will be missed by all.”
Caine, the chair of the Democratic Town Committee, said Krodel was a dedicated public servant who cared deeply about Naugatuck.
Those remarks were echoed by Kevin M. DelGobbo, a longtime former Republican burgess, mayor’s aide and a state representative serving Naugatuck’s 70th District.
DelGobbo, who met Krodel while campaigning for local Republicans and former U.S. President Gerald Ford when DelGobbo was a child, said Krodel was passionate about the community.
“He was never afraid to speak his mind, and to try to do something about it through his involvement in the process,” DelGobbo said.
Even though he had left the foreground of politics, he continued to pay attention, DelGobbo said.
“I would see him at Big Y (World Class Market), and we would talk about local politics while we pushed our carts around the store,” DelGobbo said. “He never really left the scene.”
Attorney Carlos Santos, who knew Krodel well, said he had the pleasure of working closely with Krodel in the background on several local elections, including the Hess campaign.
“He worked tirelessly for what he believed in,” Santos said. “Naugatuck has lost a good man.”