Wilton DPW Director Michael Tatro remembered for skills, vision, humor
Published: 01-29-2024 12:51 PM
Modified: 02-08-2024 11:17 AM
After Nick Germain became Wilton’s town administrator in November 2021, one of the first department heads he hired was Michael Tatro as director of public works.
Germain said Tatro, who began in 2022, was the town’s first public works director for several years, and “He rose to the ocassion in every single way you could possibly imagine.”
Tatro, a 57-year-old Antrim resident, died in a motor vehicle crash Jan. 22 in Greenfield. According to State Police, officers responded to a report of a single-vehicle crash on Forest Road in Greenfield at approximately 5:19 a.m. The preliminary investigation concluded that Tatro drove his Ford F-150 off the road and hit a tree, and the vehicle rolled onto its passenger side.
Tatro was pronounced dead by first-responders on the scene, and according to State Police, a preliminary investigation indicates that he may have suffered a medical emergency leading up to the collision.
According to Antrim Road Agent Tyler Tommila, Tatro was a foreman in the town’s Highway Department before going to Wilton, and Germain said that small-town experience was an asset. He said Tatro had a special mix of being able to be mindful of the day-to-day operations of the department but also what it would need in the future.
Tatro was shepherding the town’s road service management study, Germain said, and integrating the Highway Department so that Wilton would have a “true public works department,” instead of people who work on roads and occasionally do other things.
As part of the “whole bevy”of things Tatro was doing to modernize the department, he was central to advancing the new highway garage plan, which Germain called a “generational spend” for the town.
“You have to have very good justifications for what you’re asking for,” he said.
Germain called Tatro a link between Wilton’s past and future who was “picking up the next strand of the future of the town.”
“He was a special guy and he did a really good job,” he said. “We’re going to miss him terribly.”
Jennifer Beck, chair of the Wilton Economic Development Team and a member of the Conservation Commission, called Tatro a “strategic partner” on the gazebo along the Wilton Riverwalk and other downtown projects.
“It wasn’t just roads. It wasn’t just infrastructure,” she said. “He understood the kind of investment needed to keep Wilton beautiful. He had so much more that he wanted to do here. They’re going to be some huge boots to fill.”
Beck called Tatro “perfect for Wilton,” and said that during the gazebo project, he would bring his entire crew early in the morning if necessary, and treated the volunteers who worked on the project like his crew.
“He was diplomatic and quite charming, and he was wicked smart. He knew so much about so many things,” she said. “He was a gentle soul, and yet incredibly competent.”
According to Beck, Tatro had the same facial expression most of the time, but if he found something funny, his entire expression changed.
“The smile would light up the town,” she said. “I’m just going to miss hearing him laugh.”