South Burlington - William Vincent “Bill” Meisenzahl, 92, passed away on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 at Green Mountain Nursing Home in Colchester with his loving family by his side. Bill was born on August 26, 1926 in New York, NY, son of the late Frederick and Nellie (O’Brien) Meisenzahl.
Bill grew up in the Bronx in New York City, where as a kid he played stickball in the streets, jumped rooftops and followed his beloved Yankees in the shadows of Yankee Stadium. During this time, in the depression era, he lost two sisters and his father to tuberculosis. His mother became sick, sending him and his two brothers to a home for boys where they were raised by nuns. One of his brothers was subsequently adopted away to another family. Eventually Bill and a brother were reunited with their mother when she recovered.
Bill attended Tappan Zee High School in Orangeburg, NY as well as Iona College in New Rochelle, NY and then St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT where he studied Theology. He then decided to enter the Monastery and become a Trappist monk at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA. While living as a monk, he learned the trade of stone masonry and traveled to Snowmass, CO and Azul, Argentina to help build other monasteries. After twelve years serving God as a monk, he made the decision to leave the monastic life to re-enter society. He left in 1963, memorably on the day JFK died.
Two weeks later he met Dorothy Meisenzahl (Dot) while volunteering together at Catholics for Latin America (CFLA). No more than a month later he announced to her he would someday marry her. Dot and Bill were married two years later after he completed his master’s degree in Education, back at St. Michael’s College. Having fallen in love with Vermont, they started a life in the Green Mountain State. Eventually he took a job teaching English at Richford High School. He also did masonry work during summers. Their next several years were spent in Richford. While living there four children were born, though the first-born daughter died tragically in 1970. The people of Richford were an anchor to the young couple during this time of immense grief.
While living in Richford he worked tirelessly to help his father-in-law realize his dream of converting a large barn into a summer home in Fairfax. He poured his soul into the project and eventually in 1976 his family made the barn their full-season home after the death of his father-in-law. The family spent most of their life in Fairfax and will always consider it home. Bill became a full-time self-employed brick and stone mason, and was considered a true craftsman, leaving his mark on many projects in the area. He also worked at IBM for a five-year period. St. Luke’s Parish was a large part of the family’s life and Bill was a dedicated member of the Knights of Columbus. The children attended BFA Fairfax throughout their life there.
After thirty-five years in Fairfax raising his children with love, humor, and compassion, being a dear friend to many and toiling endlessly with the challenges of life in a converted barn, Bill and Dot relocated to South Burlington. For the past eight years, they have resided at Grandway Commons and have made countless new & dear friends.
Throughout his life Bill enjoyed many rounds of golf with family and friends, and regularly attended UVM and St. Michael’s basketball games. He also followed his beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the New York Yankees, and the New York Giants. Bill was extremely talented at fixing things and often came up with hilarious and ingenious solutions. He was a great cook who could bake a mean pie. He happily tended a fruitful garden and was well-known for his rhubarb patch.
But nothing has been as important to him as his family, friends and his faith. Bill has touched and inspired so many with his kindness, patience, and spirituality. Many close to him knew well his contagious laugh and spirited sense of humor. He is widely known as a gentle, selfless soul, and a beacon of light and hope. He was, and always will be, thought of as a truly amazing and giving Husband, Father, Grandfather, and friend.
Bill is survived by his loving wife of 54 years Dorothy (O’Brien) Meisenzahl of South Burlington, his two sons Brian Meisenzahl and wife Sarah of Williston, William “Bill” Meisenzahl and wife Debbie of Brooklyn, New York, his daughter Mary “Muffy” Meisenzahl and fiance Val Wallace of New York City, brother-in-law Eugene O’Brien of Massachusetts, three grandchildren Charlie, Andy and Anna Rose and many nieces and nephews.
He is also predeceased by his daughter Dorothy “Bubby” Ellen, brothers George Meisenzahl, Fred Drake and sisters Winifred, Florence and Ruth.
Visiting hours will be held on Friday August 2, 2019 from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. at A W Rich Funeral Home - Fairfax Chapel. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, August 3, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Luke Church, Fairfax with a reception immediately following at the church. Burial will follow the reception at 2:00 p.m. in the family lot in All Saints Cemetery in Richford. Memorial contributions in Bill’s memory may be made to Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, 228 North Winooski Ave., Burlington, VT 05401 or COTS Committee on Temporary Shelter, 179 South Winooski Ave., Burlington, VT 05401. The family invites you to share your memories and condolences by visiting www.awrfh.com.