The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Obituaries

December 3, 2013

Joseph R. Latch Jr.

JOHNSTOWN — LATCH – Col. Joseph R. Jr., 89, Johnstown, died Dec. 2, 2013. Born Jan. 25, 1924, in Johnstown, son of Joseph and Angeline (Addeo) Lecci. Preceded in death by parents; wife of 66 years, Mamie V. (Cassata), who passed away Aug. 2, 2013; son, Joseph Latch III; and brother, Donald N. Lecci. Survived by son, Mark, married to Cathie; daughter, Monica, wife of Gary Ripple; grandson, Jarod Latch, married to Jacie; granddaughter, Julie, and fiancee, Frank; great-granddaughter, Kirsten Latch; sister, Rose Mirable; and brother, Jeno Lecci, married to Ann. He was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Col. Latch started his military career as a private in the U.S. Army in January 1943. He participated in the D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach in June 1944 and the following campaigns in Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. Separated from active service in December 1945-1949, he re-enlisted in 1949 with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion. He was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in August 1950 at Fort Indiantown Gap and with his battalion was activated to the West German Border. He graduated from the U.S. Armor School, Fort Knox, Ky., in 1951. He was appointed administrative officer of full time staff in 1952. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1973, he served as the Battalion Commander 1st Battalion 103rd Armor Regiment and was the commander during the Johnstown Flood in 1977. He retired with 38 years of active and reserve service and was promoted to colonel in the Retired Reserve in 1979. Col. Latch received the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) World War II, American Defense Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon, Korean Service Medal and the Pennsylvania Distinguished Service Medal. Joseph served as director of the Johnstown office of the Department of Revenue from 1979 to 1987 and was the Johnstown Public Works director from 1988 to 1992. In his retirement, he remained active with the Korean War Veterans and Veterans of the D-Day Invasion. His final tribute occurred Oct. 11, 2010, as he was inducted into the “Legion of Honor” of the Chapel of the Four Chaplains. Friends received from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at Frank Duca Funeral Home, Westmont Chapel, 1622 Menoher Blvd. Funeral Mass will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at St. Clare of Assisi Church, Father Matthew Misurda. Entombment, Grandview Mausoleum. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to St. Clare of Assisi Church, 110 Maple Ave., Johnstown, Pa. 15901, in his memory. Condolences may be sent through www.ducafuneralhome.com.

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