On Tuesday, September 8, 2020, Thomas John Laveck, 79, died peacefully in his lakeside home surrounded by his loving wife of 56 years, his adoring children and grandchildren, and a steady stream of friends all professing to be his best buddy. Parkinson’s Disease Dementia robbed Tom of his mind and body, but it failed miserably to rob him of his dignity.
Tom was born in Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1941, the only son of Charles and Anna (Sespico) Laveck. He was lucky to make it out of the cradle after taking a spoon to the head by his slightly older sister, Anna Marie, who said, “I don’t like him. Take him back.” After this rough start, the two were in cahoots for the rest of their lives. While it is rumored they picked on their younger sister, Florence, in childhood, Tom was her protector in adulthood.
Tom graduated from Saint John High School in Ashtabula where he began dating Bonnie Massucci, the love of his life. Their eternal bond was solidified when he scored the winning touchdown at the homecoming game and crowned Bonnie as the homecoming queen. They were married on June 27, 1964, and stayed true to their commitment to love, honor, and cherish each other till death parted them on Tuesday at 5:30 in the evening with Bonnie still holding his hand.
A workaholic motivated by the desire to provide for his family, Tom labored tirelessly at many and varied occupations. He served in the Marine Corps Reserves for four years as a sergeant, earning expert marksmanship honors. His heroic tendencies led him to become a firefighter. He retired reluctantly from the Ashtabula Fire Department after 33 years of service, 5 of those as a captain. When not putting out fires, he was cutting hair in the first chair next to his favorite barber Julie at De Ge’s barber shop, the “ugly pink magnet” situated on Lake Avenue that he proudly purchased in 1985. In addition to these full-time jobs, Tom also roofed houses, drove for various curriers, and managed his rental properties as a landlord.
In those spare moments when not working, Tom enjoyed hunting, fishing, gun collecting, and ripping cards in frustration at his weekly poker game.
He was the hero of many, especially his children, who honored him till his dying day. His only son Bill visited him at The Lantern daily, relieving Bonnie and making friends with each and every caregiver and physical therapist who ministered to Tom with loving and gentle hands. We will never forget them. His daughter Lisa nursed Tom on his deathbed, tending to his every need, including the taming of his bushy, unruly, and expressive eyebrows to prepare him for his final promotion to heaven.
Anyone who knew Tom knows he was famous for his sage advice and wise sayings that he imparted unobtrusively and at just the right moment. His words often sparked life-changing epiphanies. These words will forever live on in my memory and continue to serve me well, but my dad actually lived by my Grandma Massucci’s mantra: “All you can leave behind is your good name.” Congratulations, Dad! You did it, for your children and grandchildren and the many lives you have touched throughout your 79 years will remember your good name and honor it always.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Florence Wander, and his nephew Brian Scott. He is survived by his wife Bonnie, his sister Anna Marie Merrill, his son Bill, his daughters Shari (Doug) Bolles and Lisa (Mike) Schlomer, his grandchildren Thomas and Lauren Laveck and Gus, Zoe, and Andrew Schlomer, as well as many cherished nieces and nephews.
Tom’s funeral mass will be held at Mount Carmel Church on Saturday, September 12, at 11:00 a.m. Due to social distancing requirements the church may fill. In that case ushers will direct you to the Community Center where the mass will be streamed live. To access the mass in real time from home, go to the Facebook page of Our Lady of Peace Parish--Ashtabula, Ohio. Go to videos and click on the one titled Tom Laveck’s funeral mass. You can also listen from the parking lot by tuning in to 106.9 FM or 93.3 FM.
In lieu of flowers, send donations to The Alan Sposito Memorial Scholarship (2431 Walnut Blvd. Ashtabula, Ohio 44004), one of Tom’s many favorite charities established in the name of fellow firefighter and dear friend Alan Sposito to be awarded to students pursuing a career as a first responder or medical professional.
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