Walter Clare Lathem, was born on,Wednesday, June 1, 1938, in Steubenville, Ohio. He was the fourth of eight children born to Hoyt Milton Franklin Lathem and Margaret Thelma Burdick Lathem. He lived in Ohio until he entered the US Army in September of 1957 at the age of 19. While in the Army he worked for the White House Army Signal Agency and lived in Virginia. Walt would reminisce about having conversations with President Eisenhower when he came down to the basement putting green near Walt’s office. During this time, he met the lovely Betty Arlene Frye while they were both singing in the church choir. They were married on June 13, 1959 in Hoy, West Virginia. They first made their home in Virginia and then moved back to Ohio in the early 1960’s, where Walt enrolled at Ohio University and graduated with a dual major in Physics and Mathematics. After graduating, he became an Aerospace Engineer for NASA.
About this same time, their family began to grow. Their daughter Cheryl was born in 1963, their son Gerald (Jerry) in 1965, and their son Don in 1971. During this time of family growth, Walt & Betty lived in Olmstead Falls, Middleburg Heights, and Brunswick, Ohio and were highly active members of their churches, initially Parma Christian Church and then Brunswick Christian Church. Walt left NASA in the late 1970’s to co-own and operate two ComputerLand Stores in northeastern Ohio, jumpstarting his family’s immersion in the world of electronics and computers. Later, Walt engaged in a variety of business and professional opportunities prior to retiring.
During this season, the family continued to expand as their children married and grandchildren began to arrive. After their retirement, Walt and Betty chose to sell their home in Brunswick and began the RV lifestyle adventure. They split their time between Ohio and Texas so that they could be actively involved in the lives of all fourteen of their grandchildren (and avoid the temperature extremes of Ohio winters and Texas summers). They developed deep friendships in both states and were also actively involved in their churches, most often singing in the choir. In the summer of 2018, when health considerations made continuing the RV lifestyle impossible, they permanently moved to Elgin, Texas. In June of 2019, Walt and Betty celebrated 60 years of marriage at gatherings in both Texas and Ohio!
Throughout his life, Walt was known for his love of God and his love of family. He loved to sing and could often be found participating in choirs and quartets. His smile and sense of humor were much appreciated. He demonstrated his love of family through extensive genealogical research as well as attending family reunions, traveling with his siblings, hosting grandchildren, and attending their special events, helping with building projects, playing board games, and myriad other means. Many of his closest loved ones recall his quick wit, his ready smile, and his pleasant whistle.
Walt met his Lord Jesus face-to-Face on August 24, 2020 after courageously battling both heart and kidney failure for many years. His life-partner of 61 years and all three of his children were able to say their goodbyes at his bedside earlier in the day.
Walt was preceded in death by both of his parents, all four of his brothers (Donald, Hoyt “Bob”, Glenn, & Robert), and one of his sisters (Thelma Parrish).
He is survived by his two younger sisters (Margaret Bice and Gwenn Reynard), his beloved wife (Betty Arlene Frye Lathem), all three of his children (Cheryl Lucas, Gerald “Jerry” Lathem, and Don Lathem), fourteen grandchildren, and two (soon-to-be-four) great-grandchildren, as well as countless other extended family members.
A memorial celebration of Walt’s life will be held, Saturday, September 19th at 4:00 PM at the Bastrop Christian Church with military honors.
A live streaming of the service will be able to view at, http://youtu.be/zeFenJILj-0