Alvin H. Latham

Alvin H. Latham

WESTERLO — Alvin H. Latham, who was active in many facets of his community’s life, died unexpectedly on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. He was 83.

Mr. Latham considered himself lucky in later years to have grandchildren nearby. “Alvin lived for his grandchildren,” his family wrote in tribute, “and appreciated every moment he was able to spend with them.”

Born on Oct. 28, 1932 in Albany, he was the son of  Henry and Zaida (née DeLavergne) Latham.

Though a lifelong resident of Westerlo, Mr.  Latham saw a good part of the world as a young man. He was a flight-crew chief in the United States Air Force and then a logger in the western part of the country before coming home, where he remained the rest of his life and in long partnership with his wife Catherine “Kate” (née Snyder) Latham.

They were married on his birthday, Oct. 28, in 1970. They had known each other as Westerlo schoolmates and met again when Mr. Latham returned to the town. He took up carpentry when he returned, a trade practiced by his great-grandfather.

After their marriage, Mr. Latham  set to building a house that still remains the Latham home and center of family life.  Asked if she helped in the building of it, Mrs. Latham said, “I most certainly did.” It was a newlyweds’ project that took three years to complete.

“We always said we’d have it finished in 1998,” she said. But they beat that target by a good number of years and moved into it in 1973.

Mr. Latham also applied his carpentry skills to help build the town’s first pavilion, the new Fish and  Game Club building, and the Woodman’s Hall.

Mr. Latham and his wife loved to gather their four grandchildren —  ranging from a high school student to a preschooler — around them, after school and for overnight stays.

He also loved to go to his brother-in-law Robert Snyder’s nearby farm and help him mow his hayfields. “They were like two peas in a pod,” said Mrs. Latham of the two men. Mr. Latham, she says, would go up to the Snyder farm on his four-wheeler and then transfer to the tractor he loved to drive.

Asked what time in their life she remembers as especially happy, Mrs Latham says it was when their children were born.

Mrs. Latham describes her husband as a “very calm man, quiet and good-hearted. He was very good to me, we never argued,” she said.

His son, Michael Latham, proudly recalls what his father told him of his Air Force service. At the time — the mid-1950s — helicopters were a relatively new addition to the force and were his father’s specialty. He says his father would often be asked to fly along on flights carrying the “brass,” just in case adjustments were needed in flight.

Years later, Mr. Latham  was similarly needed by his church, Westerlo Reformed Church. His son says that when he sought to leave his post as Elder — he had been been performing  those duties “ forever,” his wife says — “they wouldn’t let him do it.”

“Alvin loved to drive his tractor, and enjoyed camping, hunting, fishing, farming, carpentry work, and listening to gospel and country music,” his family wrote.

Mr. Latham also relished public service. He was elected town assessor and served in that post for many years; his family estimates 12 to 15 years. His son says he gave it up when he didn’t like the way things were going: “It was becoming more ‘I’ than ‘we’ and “us.’”

He was also an Albany County Committeeman for the Democratic Nominating Committee.

Mr. Latham worked for many years as a foreman for the Albany County Department of Public Works, a position from which he retired in 1993.

A firm believer  in giving back to his town, he found many ways to give. “He enjoyed serving the community of Westerlo,” his family says.

He helped to restore the town museum, and was a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

The veterans buried in the Westerlo Rural Cemetery — about 250 0f them — were honored each year with flags placed on their graves by Mr. Latham and his wife. What began as a school project, continued under their leadership and with the involvement of the local 4-H club, the Westerlo Historical Society, and the happy participation of the couple’s grandchildren. Though he was still recovering from chemotherapy, Mr. Latham  and his wife performed this faithful duty this past Memorial Day.

His son recalls that Mr. Latham was a “very humble man; he never took credit for anything.”

“He was a man who really did enjoy helping others,” his son says. “I think he regretted the way he saw the country going, away from thinking as a country and more toward individualism.”

A committed member of the Westerlo Volunteer Fire Company and of the Westerlo-Basic Valley Fish and Game Club, he had leadership roles in both organizations and helped to promote their welfare and growth.  He was also a volunteer for the Westerlo Rescue Squad.

In addition, he belonged to the National Rifle Association, the Westerlo Historical Society, the Helderberg Hilltoppers, and the American Legion Post in Voorheesville.

Mr. Latham lived his life in a way that balanced work, play, community involvement, church, and family. It could never be said of Alvin Latham that he lacked  energy or  the desire to do for others. He had plenty of both.

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Alvin H. Latham is survived by his wife, Catherine M. “Kate” (née Snyder) Latham. He is also survived by his children, Kenneth A. Latham and his wife, Susan, Karen A. Latham-Hagen and her husband, Paul, Michael J. Latham and his wife, Dawn, and Alicia J. Latham-Malanga and her husband, Carmine; by his brother-in-law, Robert Snyder, and his wife, Ruth; and by three sisters-in-law, Nancy Latham, Anna Kuhar, and Lita Snyder.

He is also survived by 11 grandchildren — Kendra, Michael, Matthew, Jay, Brian, Nick, Katie, Morgan, Alexis, Philip, and Nicholas — as well as by several great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and grand- and great-grand nieces and nephews.

His sister, Joyce A. Kudlack, and his brother, Henry C. “Bob” Latham, died before him.

Calling hours will take place at the A.J. Cunningham Funeral Home, Greenville, from noon to 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15.  Funeral services will be conducted Sunday, Oct. 16, at 11 a.m. at the Westerlo Reformed Church, to be followed by interment in Westerlo Rural Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Westerlo Reformed Church, Post Office Box 70, Westerlo, NY 12193 or to any other Westerlo community organization of the donor’s choice.

— Tim Tulloch


Updated on Oct. 14, 2016 with information on survivors.

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