Milford lost a former mayor last week. Edward Kozlowski, who was mayor of Milford from 1969 to 1971, died Feb. 18 at the age of 89.

Kozlowski may have been Milford’s first Republican mayor, but he was remembered this week for more than politics. He was also an avid family man, a community leader, patriot and quite the accomplished gardener.

“Ed Kozlowski was Milford through and through,” said James Richetelli Jr., also a former Republican mayor. “He was selected to run for mayor by his party because of his deep roots in the community — active in his kids’ activities, his church, civic groups, etc.

“But more so, they and ultimately the citizens of Milford, saw a man who was extremely intelligent and had common sense and a ‘let’s-get-it-done’ attitude,” Richetelli continued. “He had an innate ability to cut through the red tape and he brought people together to achieve so much.”

Richetelli said Kozlowski’s sought-after skills may have been a detriment to Milford: Kozlowski “was not mayor for very long because the governor and others saw those same abilities and tapped him to serve at the state level, running two major departments — Department of Public Works and Department of Motor Vehicles.

“He was respected across the state,” Richetelli said.

Kozlowski grew up in Miford, attended Milford schools, and joined the U.S. Navy at age 17 and served for two and a half years, from 1943 to 1946. He was in the Pacific Theater stationed at Pearl Harbor and received an honorable discharge as 2nd class petty officer torpedo man.

In 1946, he and 20 of his fellow classmates received their high school diplomas in absentia.

During a Milford High School class reunion several years ago, Kozlowski talked about the war years. He and others from his high school class actually volunteered as air raid wardens while still in high school, and their job was to stand on top of the high school and spot planes. He was only 15 years old, and he couldn’t wait to be old enough to join the service and do more for his country.

After the service, Kozlowski attended Clarkson University, graduating in 1951 with a bachelor’s

degree in mechanical engineering. He worked as a machine designer and administrative engineer at the Bullard Co. for 19 years.

He was active with the youth of the city of Milford and became an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 1 and also managed several Little League baseball teams.

“Politics was a strong interest and in 1967 he became an alderman,” his family wrote in an obituary notice. “He proceeded to become the first Republican Mayor in Milford from 1969 to 1971. He was able to stop the planned $5 million incinerator and built an alternative method for waste disposal which was the first municipal shredder in New England.”

Kozlowski solved many viaduct flooding problems in Milford and created 12 small neighborhood recreation parks for children, the obituary notice states.

Next, Kozlowski became Connecticut state commissioner of public works and later was appointed state of Connecticut commissioner of motor vehicles.

“In his retirement years, Ed prided himself on growing gigantic pumpkins,” Richetelli added. “He was a master gardener. He tended to his garden the way he served the city — with pride, dedication and hard work.”

Kozlowski won several agricultural awards for his impressive pumpkins — one weighed in at 673 pounds due to his carefully honed feeding method, which included seaweed and fish emulsion fed through the leaves.

Ever the family man, with a huge treehouse in his back yard to prove it, Kozlowski named that prize-winning pumpkin after his then 3-month-old great-grandson.

“We were saddened to hear of the passing of former Mayor Edward Kozlowski,” said Republican Town Committee Chairman Paul Beckwith. “Mayor Kozlowski was a dedicated public servant whose service to our great city extended beyond politics. He gave of himself to our community in many ways, as a Little League coach, a Cub Scout leader, a devoted parish member at Christ the Redeemer Church, was a proud member of the Thaddeus Kosciusko Society, and was a member of the Milford Hall of Fame committee. He was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather to his wonderful family and a true friend to all of us who call Milford home.”

Beckwith said Kozlowski “leaves a legacy that in part helped lay the cornerstone that has made Milford what it is today — The Little City with a Big Heart.”

Calling hours are Monday, Feb. 22, 4 to 8 p.m., at the Smith Funeral Home, 135 Broad Street, Milford. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. at Christ the Redeemer Church, 325 Oronoque Road, Milford.