It is with deep sorrow that we announce the death of Thomas P. Latkovic of Willowick, OH, who passed away on February 24, 2021 at the age of 93 at the David Simpson Hospice House in Cleveland with his family nearby. Born at home on E. 26th St. in Cleveland to Peter and Mary Latkovich in July of 1927, Tom was the youngest of five children: Peter, Milan, Caroline (Jerele) and John. He never met his brother, Milan, who died at the age of 9 months in August of 1919 from the Spanish Flu.
He started working at age 7 selling newspapers on the corner and at age 8, he worked in his Uncle Dan's grocery store stocking shelves and cleaning up. Tom earned $1 a week and his mother took him to the department store where he bought a pair of knickers for $1.13. His mother paid the 13 cents. He never stopped working and although he never earned a college degree, he rose through the ranks of Charter One (now RBS Citizens) Bank to retire as Senior Vice President of the Consumer Lending Department.
Tom attended Collinwood High School where he was the Sports Editor for the paper and a star lefthanded pitcher. He pitched a no-hitter and was scouted by the New York Yankees. Tom played trumpet in both the marching and concert bands. He met his wife, the former Jean Farinacci, who was a majorette in the band and "way out of his league."
He graduated in 1945 as WWII was coming to a close, but was drafted into the Army Air Corps (precursor to the Air Force) and served for two years as an air traffic controller from Sheffield Field, TX and on to Morrison Field, FL, Puerto Rico, the West Indies, Westover Field, MA, Langley Field, MD and Ft. Benning, GA. His claim to fame was calling Tyrone Power in for a landing. When they found out about his pitching prowess and NYY interest, they placed him into special service and he pitched for the Army team everywhere he was stationed.
Unfortunately, he threw his arm out and his baseball career went with it. Tom never lost his love for the game and the Cleveland Indians were always his favorite team and sport. He and his closest friend fulfilled a lifelong dream and traveled to Arizona for the Indians' Spring Training ... only to be greeted with the 1994-95 baseball strike. So, Tom and Pete played catch (they brought their mitts) on the field thanks to an Indians staffer and even got a write up in an Akron paper from a reporter also there for Spring Training.
Tom was honorably discharged in 1947 and came home. He began his career in banking at City Loan & Savings as an Assistant Manager. In July of 1948, he married Jean, the "only girlfriend he ever had since we were 15." They started their family the next year and had five children. The most important lessons he learned were: faith in God, love of family, whatever you do only be satisfied with your best, try to make your family proud and help your children in all things. Tom accomplished all of those and passed them on to his children.
Although he was not formally trained, he loved carpentry and could draw up blueprints that would make an architect proud right down to the last nail he would need. His father worked at American Steel Co. which produced nails. He would bring the scrap home and draw letters and numbers on a piece of wood and give them to Tom to pound the nails in straight and make a plaque. That started what became a lifelong hobby to build and he renovated and added space to every home, even building a garage for his first home. He made cabinets and tables and sheds and clubhouses and anything his children wanted and it kept him busy in retirement. Those are now treasured pieces. He signed a lot of them where only the recipient could see.
Tom lost Jean in December of 2015 and always prayed he'd "go five minutes later" so he could always take care of her. God was not ready for him yet and he lived independently next door to his daughter until he had to have surgery for a gallstone in early February. He fought valiantly to stay with us for weeks but lost his fight and finally got to rejoin his wife, parents and siblings.
Tom leaves behind his children: Jeanne (Frank) Ezzo, Joan Scharf, Thomas J. (MaryJo) and Tim and Jackie (Jack) Klisuric; his five grandsons, Bryan (Tanya) and Douglas Vehovec and Thomas E. (Kim), Steve (Anna) and Mike (Samantha) Latkovic; step-grandchildren Matthew Ezzo and Melissa Latshaw; 16 great-grandchildren, 12 beloved nieces and nephews and life-long friends.
Because of Covid-19, there will be no wake, but a Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, March 1st at Ss. Robert and William Church 367 East 260th St., Euclid, where he was a parishioner for more than 65 years. The mass will be livestreamed on www.srweuclid.cc/funeral for those who cannot attend in person. The family will receive friends from 9:00 a.m. until time of mass on Monday. Entombment will be in All Souls Cemetery in Chardon Twp.
The family suggests contributions to Hospice of the Western Reserve P.O. BOX 72101 Cleveland, OH 44192.
Arrangements by Orlando-Donsante-Previte Funeral Home of Wickliffe (440) 943-2466.
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Hospice of the Western Reserve
P.O. BOX 72101, Cleveland OH 44192