William M. Waggaman, 59, born in Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and resident of Edgartown, died on Oct. 21, 2017. He was struck down suddenly in Washington, D.C., at a family gathering in celebration of his mother’s 98th birthday. A beloved and captivating figure within his circle, with a mischievous and clever sense of humor and the absurd, Will was a complicated man — smart, maddening, funny, irresponsible, entertaining, troubled, and sweet of heart.
Will grew up in Chevy Chase, Md., and was a graduate of St. Paul’s School (Concord, N.H.) and Brown University. He was rightfully proud of his rowing career at both institutions, whose programs benefited from years of his support. It was a sport that provided him lifelong friendships, lessons, and strengths. After college, Will enjoyed a notable career in advertising and marketing. He lived variously in Darien, Conn., Norwalk, Conn., and New York City.
More recently he was content in the quiet of his Edgartown home, venturing out daily to add sparkle to nearby family and friends. The Island brought him a great measure of peace. He enjoyed the comforting familiarity, gazing at the South Beach ocean, the lifelong memories generated by his grandparents’ purchase of waterfront property in the 1930s, and the pleasant banter among his many clamorous, abutting relatives. Significantly, he also used his Vineyard time to keep in touch and meaningfully connect with scores of companions who have movingly remembered their special friend.
This past summer in Edgartown, Will orchestrated the joyous wedding of his younger daughter Natalie, as well as the simple and dignified burial service for his son and cherished namesake Willie. He was devoted to these two, and to his elder daughter Christina. Earlier he married Audrey Baird, a boarding schoolmate with whom he reconnected last year. Audrey brought much peace and caring and love to Will’s life. She helped him get his affairs in order. She made him eat fruits and vegetables. He in turn enchanted her with affectionate and funny tales of his life, remembering every detail and embellishing with relish when needed. He loved dogs and monkeys and the New York Jets. And a dozen oysters every night at Alchemy. He was not afraid to point out the imperfections of those in his orbit, but always with a smile and a twinkle in the eye.
Will is survived by his wife Audrey of Edgartown and Venice, Calif.; daughters Christina of Edgartown and Alexandria, Va., and Natalie Solar and husband David of Edgartown and University Park, Pa. He was predeceased by his son William Jr. Other survivors include his mother Adele Waggaman, sister Victoria Knopes, half-brothers Alexander Welles, Arnold Welles, and David LeBreton, all seasonal Edgartown residents.
The family plans a celebration of Will’s life and a service of interment in Edgartown next summer.