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Veteran's lifelong industriousness set example

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 11:45 p.m.
Ralph A. Latagliata, 97, of New Kensington, who died Feb. 25, 2014

Ralph Latagliata taught his children to zig and zag.

“He was always very open, telling us: ‘You have to get along with people and have fun with them,' ” said his daughter, Mary Ann Wilson of Gibsonia.

Ralph A. Latagliata of New Ken-sington, who worked for the late Congressman John H. Dent, died on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in Highland Center, Brackenridge. He was 97.

An Army veteran of World War II, Mr. Latagliata retired from Alcoa as a payroll accounting clerk in 1970 after 30 years of service and worked from 1971-'79 as a Pennsylvania State University bookstore manager.

Mr. Latagliata worked as field secretary for Dent, who represented Pennsylvania's 21st District from 1957-1978. From coal miners with black lung to students hoping to get into military academies to people down on their luck, Mr. Latagliata was the point man.

“There should have been a revolving door on our house,” said his daughter, Paula E. Silowash of Irwin.

In the days before computers, his office was the typewriter he kept on the dining room table.

“Every night he'd get home from work (at Alcoa) and he'd write letters on that typewriter,” said his daughter, Linda M. Henkel of Lower Burrell. “Our phone was always busy. ... There was one phone in a house with teenagers.”

His family recently found the thank-you notes from many of the people he helped.

“He saved every letter — hundreds of them,” Linda Henkel said.

A 1936 graduate of Arnold High School, Mr. Latagliata worked as an usher in the Paramount Theater to help support the family while taking courses in New Kensington Commercial School. That strong work ethic was instilled in his four children, they said.

A dedicated family man, Mr. Latagliata put them through college.

It was “the best gift he ever gave us,” said Wilson.

Mr. Latagliata was active in the community, but “was always running that extra mile for us,” Silowash said.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Pauline F. Arabia Latagliata, in 2003. In addition to his daughters, he is survived by a son, Ralph V. Latagliata of Alpharetta, Ga.; and four grandchildren.

Friends will be received 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday in Giunta-Bertucci Funeral Home Inc., 1509 Fifth Ave., Arnold. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in Mt. St. Peter Roman Catholic Church. Entombment in Greenwood Memorial Park Mausoleum, Lower Burrell. Donations may be made in Mr. Latagliata's name to Mt. St. Peter Roman Catholic Church, 100 Freeport Road, New Kensington, PA 15068.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

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