Berkshire AMC





Walt Landgraf

Former Teacher Dies At 66

Made Science Fun For His Students

Courant Staff Writer

July 27, 2007

Community members are mourning this week after Walter Landgraf, a popular retired teacher, historian, lecturer and champion of the environment, died Monday of a heart attack.

"He was tireless," said Ted Bachman, who knew Landgraf for about 40 years. Bachman, finance chairman for the Barkhamsted Historical Society, moved to town in 1967. Not long after that, he met Landgraf - a respected biology teacher and historian known for informing town residents about Barkhamsted's history.

Landgraf was traveling in Nova Scotia with his wife to attend a musical festival when he died, friends said. He was 66.

"This is such a shock because Walter was the last person anybody thought this might happen to," said Bachman.

For more than 30 years, Landgraf was a biology teacher at Northwestern Regional School District No. 7's high school. Friends and colleagues said Landgraf made science exciting for his students, passing along his zeal for nature and curiosity about his town and environment.

Shirley Coffin, a friend of Landgraf's and vice president of the town's historical society, said Landgraf taught her children in high school more than 25 years ago. She said Landgraf will be remembered as an "influential" and "likeable" member of the town's community.

Landgraf was instrumental in the restoration of Squires Tavern, a local historical landmark dating back to the 1700s, and also in reopening the Stone Museum in Peoples State Forest in 1993. The forest would become the site of many of his lectures, hikes and programs organized to teach others about nature. Several years back, a trail in the forest was named after him. Landgraf was also an integral part of the restoration efforts of Beckley Furnace in Canaan, a landmark of the Northwest corner's industrial roots.

A funeral will be held Wednesday. A public memorial service will be held Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. in the auditorium of Northwestern Regional high school in Winsted. [100 Battistoni Drive]

Walter Landgraf, 66, of Pleasant Valley, died suddenly on Monday (July 23, 2007) in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Landgraf was a graduate of the University of Connecticut, and was a popular teacher of biology and environmental technology at Northwestern Regional #7 High School in Winsted for over 30 years. Among his many achievements, he was perhaps most well-known for his re-opening of the Stone Museum in Peoples Forest in 1993. It was there that he gave many public lectures, and it was in the forest itself that he took many groups on nature walks. There is a trail there today that is named for him. As president of the Barkhamsted Historical Society, Landgraf was involved in research and hands-on restoration of the Squires Tavern. In addition to his work at the BHS, he was active in researching and lecturing on the colonial charcoal and iron industry in the area, and at the Squires Tavern in Pleasant Valley. He was also instrumental in the restoration of the Beckley Furnace in Canaan. He will be most remembered for his many years as an inspiring teacher and as a fascinating speaker on natural history, specifically the beautiful forests of northwestern Connecticut. Landgraf is survived by his wife Linne (Fenn) Landgraf of Pleasant Valley; a daughter and son-in-law, Kyli-Jill and Chris Streinz and their six children of Hersey, ME; a son, Erik and his wife Helen-Ann Landgraf of East Hartford; and a sister, Irene Rodgers of Nimrod, MS. Calling hours will be at the Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church in Pleasant Valley Tuesday, July 31, from 7-9 p.m. A funeral for family and close friends will be held on Wednesday, August 1, at 10 a.m. at the Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church, and a public memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 4 at 10 a.m. in the auditorium of Northwestern Regional #7 High School, Winsted. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Barkhamsted Historical Society, Pleasant Valley. Montano-Shea Funeral Home, 5 Steele Road, New Hartford, has care of the arrangements. Visit the online guestbook at

Legend: AMC=Appalachian Mountain Club, AT=Appalachian Trail, BLT=Burlington Land Trust, CFPA= CT Forest & Park Assn., CL=Co-leader, CPL=Commuter Parking Lot or Carpool, CWB=CFPA's CT Walk Book (W-west or E-east), FCE=Farmington Continuing Education, L=Leader, LH=Local Hike, SC=Sierra Club, U=unofficial