Ladislav “Ladi” Navratil


Ladislav “Ladi” Navratil of Edgartown, a multifaceted and generous man who brought joy and energy to everything he did, whether salsa dancing, playing the trumpet on the Owen Park bandstand, singing in his church choir, carpentry, or competing in a shooting competition, died Feb. 14, 2015, in his native Czech Republic following a rapidly progressing illness that he hid from all but his closest friends. He was 36.

No one would deny that Ladi was taken from this world far too soon. His generous spirit extended to his illness. Unwilling to have those around him grieve or worry, he told very few people he was gravely ill. In December he quietly left the Vineyard and returned to his family in the Czech Republic in hopes that he would live to see the birth of his son, who is due to enter this world in May.

Ladislav Navratil was born in Kromeriz, Czech Republic, on Oct. 23, 1978. He studied agronomy at Mendel University in Brno, and as a member of a local equestrian club he participated in many show jumping and dressage competitions. He first visited the United States through a student exchange program, CAMP USA, while still in college. He finished his studies and in 2002 moved to Florida, where he worked as an equestrian trainer.

In 2004, following a visit Ladi moved to Martha’s Vineyard and settled into Island life. He worked as a carpenter, part-time real estate agent, and bartender. Hard work led to success and in 2006, Ladi bought a house in Edgartown. In 2007, he started his own company, Navratil Construction.

He brought his horse Gracie from the Czech Republic to the United States and continued competing in amateur competitions, and at the same time continued to support horseback riding in Moravia, the region where he grew up. In 2013 and 2014, he organized a jumping competition in memory of his mother Miluse Navratilova. This year’s competition is August 28 to 30, and will be held in memory of Ladi and his mother.

Ladi had a love of community that encompassed his native land and his adopted home. He was a member of the West Tisbury Congregational Church, sang in the choir, and served as a church trustee. He was dearly loved by the congregation, and will be missed.

Music and dancing were a very important part of Ladi’s life. As a member of the Vineyard Haven Band, he regularly performed in summer concerts at Owen Park and Ocean Park. He also played second trumpet in the Vineyard Classic Brass band. He especially enjoyed performing at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs and in Christmas concerts to raise money for the Food Pantry and the Red Stocking Fund. He was also member of the Island Salsa dance group and performed at the “Built on Stilts” dance festivals from 2009 to 2011.

Ladi was a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club, and brought the same sense of purpose and discipline to firearms that he applied to everything he did in life. His ready smile and easygoing manner made him a favorite member of the weekend skeet-shooting crowd. In 2011 and in 2013, he captured the Primitive Firearm title at the Black Powder Competition. And in 2014, he successfully defended his title, and also won the large-caliber pistol championship.

Ladi was outgoing, compassionate, and he loved to laugh. He loved his work, whatever he was doing. He was the first to help with anything and everything, whenever you needed a hand. He loved learning and he loved teaching. He was upbeat and cheerful. He was larger than life, and his heart was even bigger. His kindness, his generosity, and his love for life will be missed by many.

He is survived by his girlfriend Magdalena Lizalova, who is expecting his son in May, his father Ladislav Navratil, his brother Martin Navratil, and extended family, all living in Czech Republic.

Friends are encouraged to write something about Ladi and what he meant to them. The collected stories will be sent to his son, so he can one day read what a great person his father was.

His friends will hold a gathering to celebrate his life at the Rod and Gun Club, off Third Street (265 the Boulevard), Edgartown, on Saturday, April 11, from 4 to 6 pm (potluck, BYOB, music, and dancing). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made for the benefit of his son. Please make checks payable to Martina Thornton, P.O. Box 3764, Edgartown, MA 02539.