Walter (Wally) Drobecker, fisherman, plumber, party boat and yacht captain, and member of the Montauk Fire Department for over 40 years, died on Sept. 1 at his West Lake Drive, Montauk, house. He was 74 and had Parkinson’s disease for many years.
There are thousands of fishermen who may not know his name but who could have thanked Mr. Drobecker as they waited for a fish to take the bait aboard a boat far offshore in the depths of winter. Mr. Drobecker invented the heated hand railing for the party boats of Montauk’s Viking Fleet. It was copied up and down the coast.
Mr. Drobecker was born on April 30, 1938, in New Hyde Park, the son of Walter Robert Drobecker and the former Mildred Hildebrant. His father, a fisherman, and the family began camping at Hither Hills State Park during the summer in the 1940s. Montauk eventually became their home.
He attended the Montauk School. For two years he lived in Marathon, Fla., with his father, who used driftwood to make lamps, frames, plaques, and other items. Young Wally would help gather and carry the wood to the car. He returned to Montauk when it was time to enter East Hampton High School, where he met a cheerleader named Joan Cantwell. They were married on Oct. 18, 1958, and remained together for 54 years.
Mr. Drobecker took over the Skip II charter boat after his father died. He worked with the Viking Fleet in the 1960s, but opened Drobecker Plumbing and Heating while continuing to skipper private boats.
Paul Forsberg Sr., who owns the Viking Fleet, remembered Mr. Drobecker as a fine fisherman who never lost a day if he was at the helm. “He was a plumber, so one day when I said something about the cold, he said, why not a heated hand rail,” Mr. Forsberg said. Mr. Drobecker worked for weeks to perfect a way to circulate hot air from the engine to railings made of metal tubing.
Mr. Drobecker was a member of the Montauk Boatmen’s Association. Besides fishing, he enjoyed golf.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Drobecker is survived by his children, John W. Drobecker of Scottsdale, Ariz., Walter Robert Drobecker III of Bethpage, and Cheryl Lackner of Montauk. He also leaves seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A service was held at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk on Sept. 5, the Rev. Michael Rieder officiating. Burial followed at Fort Hill Cemetery in Montauk. Memorial contributions were suggested for the Montauk Fire Department ambulance squad or benevolent fund, 12 Flamingo Road, Montauk 11954, East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton 11978, or Montauk Adult Day Care, 240 Edgemere Road, Montauk 11954.