William Kromer, a longtime English and Spanish teacher at Downsville Central School, died Tuesday from injuries suffered Aug. 23, when he struck a deer with his motorcycle on Route 97 in Hancock.
Kromer, 66, of Hancock, had been in a coma at Wilson Memorial Regional Medical Center in Johnson City since the accident.
Family and former students recalled him as brilliant and loving man.
“It’s very, very heartbreaking to see such a sad ending for such a wonderful person,” said Stacie Haynes, a former student of Kromer and former president of the Downsville Central School Alumni Association. “He was so kind and caring, and he still had so much to offer to us.” “He really was a rock for those students,” his daughter, Rosetta Kromer said. “He really supported them with a very optimistic and positive (outlook). For the most part, that’s who he was. That’s definitely who he was.”
Kromer began teaching in Downsville in 1974 and retired in 2004, his widow, Blanca, said. He began teaching Spanish at the Family Foundation School in Hancock shortly thereafter, she added.
Blanca Kromer said she met her future husband at Grand Central Terminal in New York City shortly after she arrived from Lima, Peru, to study at Columbia University.
“He approached me half in Spanish … asking me where was I from,” she said. “And I thought, ‘This is going to be tough, because I hardly spoke English.’
“After I met him in Grand Central station, we exchanged addresses, and I said, ‘OK, maybe I will write to him,’ and a few weeks later I got a letter from him, half in Spanish … That started our relationship.
“And then he said to me he wanted to go out on his motorcycle. The only wheels he had was the motorcycle. He was an avid motorcycle rider, very cautious. That’s what’s killing me.”
Kromer was riding a 900cc 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan at the time of the accident, police reports and family said.
His daughter said Kromer was not only fluent in Spanish, but also spoke French, Italian, Portuguese and Latin and had a rudimentary knowledge of Romanian and Cherokee, the latter obtained from his family’s sponsorship of a Native American child in North Carolina.
He wrote music and played organ at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Downsville and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Margaretville. Blanca Kromer said he also sang in the Delaware County Men’s Choir until it was dissolved.
He was an “avid reader and (had) a near-photographic memory,” Rosetta Kromer said.
“The man could just pluck out facts from the middle of book he read five years ago,” she said.
“I grew up feeling if I ever had a question, you either went to the Internet or my dad. He was like a walking, talking encyclopedia.”
Among his many activities, Kromer found time to help coach soccer and baseball at Downsville.
Kromer earned a bachelor’s degree from Bard College and master’s degrees from the State University College and New Paltz and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.
His corny sense of humor was legendary.
“At school they were known as Kromer jokes,” Rosetta Kromer said. “He was infamous for that, because no matter how (bad) your day was going, he’d find a way to make you smile.”