Janesville70.3°

Former Delavan town chairman remembered as advocate for his community

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Kayla Bunge
August 17, 2010
— People who knew Wayne Polzin said he passionate about his community.

He served almost 15 years on the Delavan Town Board and advocated for what he felt was best for the town.


He was firm in his beliefs and often clashed with those who disagreed.


Polzin, 73, died Monday of complications from lung cancer. He was a longtime smoker and was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, said Joanne Polzin, his wife of more than 50 years.


He grew frailer in recent weeks and was feeling particularly weak this past weekend, she said. His family had arranged for in-home hospice care and a visiting nurse came to the house Friday, but he took a turn for the worse and his family took him to the hospital Saturday, she said.


“It all happened so fast,” Joanne said Monday. “We knew it was coming, but I didn’t think that when we left the house Saturday that I’d be coming back alone today.”


Polzin owned and operated Wayne’s TV & Appliance from the early 1960s to early 1990s.


After retirement, he dedicated his free time to town government. He served as town board chairman from 1983 to 1991 and 1993 to 1995 and served as a town board supervisor from 2005 to 2007. He was appointed chairman in 2007, but he lost the seat in an election in 2009.


“You pretty much knew where he stood,” Joanne said. “He told it how he felt, said what he believed in. … It was kind of a sticky situation sometimes—you’re not going to please everybody—but he tried to do what he felt was right.”


Polzin was outspoken and sometimes struggled with choosing his words and putting his best image forward, said Dorothy Burwell, the current town board chairwoman.


“He was very opinionated, which sometimes could be a good thing and sometimes not a good thing at all,” she said. “I think he always meant well, though.”


Polzin might be best remembered for his involvement in the investigation into and termination of former town Police Chief Andrew Mayer in 2007.


Mayer in 2008 sued Polzin and the town police and fire commission. He alleged Polzin knowingly made false and malicious statements with the intent of harming Mayer and causing Mayer to be fired.


Polzin in August 2007 authorized the town attorney to investigate “unspecified allegations of misconduct” against Mayer, and the police and fire commission in October 2007 fired Mayer.


Polzin in March 2008 asked the Walworth County District Attorney’s Office to investigate allegations of misconduct against Mayer, including theft, misconduct in office, obstructing an officer and impersonating a police officer, but Koss found no misconduct and said he would not pursue charges against Mayer.


Mayer’s attorney previously told the Gazette that Polzin interfered with Mayer’s employment.


Burwell said Polzin probably could have handled that situation better.


But Polzin felt strongly about it and never looked back, said John Olson, town administrator.


“Passion is good word to describe him,” he said. “He always let you know where he stood and what he believed on an issue. It might not always gain you votes, but it is a valuable quality (for a public official to have).”


Polzin is survived by his wife, three sons and five grandsons. He is preceded in death by two sons, both killed in car crashes.


Services are planned for Thursday in Delavan.



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