'He loved Bemidji': William 'Chub' Naylor dies at 91

A community steward who had a familiar last name and a knack for curling has died at the age of 91. William "Chub" Naylor, son of the late Albert Naylor, who founded Naylor's Electric in 1920, died Saturday at Neilson Place in Bemidji. His funera...

William Naylor and his wife, Dona Mae, are pictured out for a ride on their tandem bicycle. Submitted Photo

A community steward who had a familiar last name and a knack for curling has died at the age of 91.

William "Chub" Naylor, son of the late Albert Naylor, who founded Naylor's Electric in 1920, died Saturday at Neilson Place in Bemidji.

His funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church in Bemidji. Visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Olson Schwartz Funeral Home and one hour prior to the funeral at the church.

Naylor was born Sept. 30, 1920, in Bemidji. He attended Central Elementary School and graduated from Bemidji High School in 1938. He continued his education at French's Business College in Bemidji.

In the fall of 1940, Naylor joined the Minnesota National Guard. He became an officer and was eventually promoted to the rank of captain.


After marrying Dona Mae Schwandt in April 1943 in Blackstone, Va., he was deployed to northern Africa and later served with his unit in the allied invasion of Sicily, Italy. He was honorably discharged from the military in December 1945.

After World War II ended, Naylor and his brothers, Richard, Charles and Jack, purchased Naylor Electric Construction Company from their father and brother.

Naylor's son, Michael, described his father as a man who wore many hats.

"Before we had computers, he would go through all the business logs and do all the pricing by hand," he said. "He also worked the sales floor when he had to."

After Naylor retired from the family business in the 1980s, Naylor's son, Robert (Bob) said he would often spend time visiting nursing homes and hospitals to talk to people.

"Every day he was visiting someone," Bob said. "He did a lot of visitations."

Bob recalled his father was a hard-working, detail-oriented person, but also liked to make sure everyone was having a good time.

He remembered his father once shoveled off a hockey rink on Lake Irving in the late 1950s or early 1960s, so neighborhood kids could play hockey.


He also recalled his father enjoyed water skiing, especially from Lake Bemidji to Lake Irvine and back again, using the river between the two lakes as a corridor, until water skiing on the river was no longer allowed.

In the summer, Naylor enjoyed fishing many of the local lakes and looked forward to spending fishing opener on Upper Red Lake.

"When I was real young, he took me out in a small fishing boat to do some still-water fishing," Bob said. "While we were out there he had me throw the anchor overboard, but the anchor wasn't attached to the rope. So, he said, 'Well the anchor was old and rusty and it's time to get a new one. We're better off doing a bit of drift fishing."

Naylor will be remembered by many in the community as an avid curler, as he was a lifelong member of the Bemidji Curling Club. He chaired and co-chaired various curling club events, including the 1980 U.S. Curling Association National Championships. Naylor was also selected to be on the Scots Tour curling team in 1982.

"He started me curling when I was in seventh grade and even allowed me to join the night league," Michael said. "He wouldn't put me on his own team, though, at first. He signed me up to play with other guys," he said, chuckling.

Beyond his family and work commitments, Naylor took on various community roles, including as vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, and as an active member of the VFW, Boy Scouts, American Legion and the Bemidji Park Board.

From 1973 to 1978, Naylor served as a board member for the Bemidji State University Foundation. He was named an honorary BSU alumnus in 1995.

A BSU scholarship was named after Naylor and his wife and continues to give financial assistance to a Bemidji High School student attending BSU, as well as to BSU's Beaver Pride, golf and curling activities.


"He was always very interested in the inner workings of a foundation," said Joe Czapiewski, director of development for the BSU Foundation. "Every year when it came time to do the annual report, he was always engaged with us. We could always count on Chub to really be a part of it and not just one of those donors that gives but doesn't invest themselves. He was a true part of the BSU family."

Naylor was also an active member of First Presbyterian Church. He was elected a trustee and served as a deacon, and was the chairman of the building committee for the construction of the education wing of the church.

"He loved Bemidji and the people in it," Bob said. "He was a good guy. We're really going to miss him."

The family of Naylor requests memorials be given to the First Presbyterian Church, the Wounded Warrior Project, BSU Foundation or a charity of one's choice.

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