Jack E. Lavriha

  • Died: May 13, 2008
  • Location: Ohio

Dombrowski-Riddle Funeral Home

1939 Oberlin Ave
Lorain, OH 44052

Tel. (440) 246-2314

Tribute & Message From The Family

Jack E. LaVriha, a leader in Lorain¯s civic and veteran¯s affairs and longtime local journalist, died on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was 93.

Born on March 12, 1915 in Lorain, he was a lifelong resident, only moving to North Carolina in July 2007. Jack graduated from Lorain High School with the 1934-B class. He was editor of the school¯s newspaper, The High Standard, sang in the Acapella choir and glee club and was head cheerleader in 1933-34, elected by the student body. He attended Cleveland College and became a journalist, starting as a reporter for the Lorain Journal, as well as for the Sandusky Daily News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In 1944, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was attached to the U.S. Amphibious Forces in Little Creek, Virginia and was on the staff of The Gator, a weekly publication, prior to sea duty in the North Atlantic.

In 1947, Jack was named manager of the Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra who, at age 32, became of the youngest manager of a major symphony in the nation. In 1950-1951, he was Lorain news director for radio station WEOL.

LaVriha had been president of the Lorain Memorial Association for over 5o years, sponsoring annual Lorain Memorial Day parades, annual Community Memorial Services at the Lorain Palace Civic Center, memorial outdoor services at four area cemeteries and the placing of American flags on the graves of veterans. He was past president of the Lorain Veteran¯s Council, serving as its secretary for 22 years. He spearheaded the placing of granite monuments at Veterans Memorial Park and area cemeteries in memory of all Lorain men and women who died in all American wars. In 1954, he returned to journalism with the Lorain Journal, reporting on politics, labor and business, retiring in 1981. In the 1980s, LaVriha led the Free Terry Anderson Committee after the Lorain native was taken hostage in the Middle East. It was due to these efforts that Anderson was set free.

He was known as the ¯Voice of Golden Glove Boxing¯ while serving as a ring announcer for more than 50 years until 1988. LaVriha was secretary of the Lorain Boxing and Wrestling Commission. The Lorain Veteran¯s Council honored LaVriha with ¯Lorain Veteran of the Year¯ awards in 1963 and 1989, the only veteran to twice receive the award in its council¯s history. The Lorain Jaycees honored him with the Lorain ¯Outstanding Man of the Year¯ award and May 26, 1981 was named ¯Jack LaVriha Day¯ in Lorain. Most recently, in 2004, he was honored by Leadership Lorain County for ¯Leadership Excellence in Public Service¯. Overall, he had received more than 30 awards recognizing his selfless and untiring involvement within the community.

Jack also served on numerous committees advocating programs for the betterment of Lorain, including membership on Mayor Joseph F. Koziura¯s Citizens Advisory Committee, serving as chairman of the Lorain Slovenian Spotlight Nationality for the annual Lorain International Festival, past president of the Lorain International Association and organizer and first chairman of the Lorain Slovenian Heritage Association. He encouraged the founding of the Lorain Slovenian Button Box Accordionists, and has been narrator for more than 30 years of all entertainment during the annual three-day Lorain International Festival. LaVriha was recognized ¯for outstanding individual effort in the naming of Admiral King High School and the formation of its Booster Club.¯ He was also designated by the Lorain Lions Club as ¯First Citizen of Lorain¯. In 1989, he was presented with both the Community Service Award by the Ohio Grand Lodge of Masons and the Ohio AMVET of the Year at the AMVETS State Convention.

He was a longtime member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Cleveland Chapter, Cleveland Press Club, Fleet Reserve Association, Life Member and past commander of Lorain AMVETS Post 47 and Honorary Member of Polish Legion of American Veterans. He was a board member and past vice president of Faith Followers of Helen Steiner Rice, charter member of the former Lorain Sertoma Club and member of the Lorain Slovenian Club. He was a 70 year member of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lorain, where he sang in the choir during his early years, was vice president of the Men¯s League and delivered Meals on Wheels for many years.

LaVriha enjoyed working with people of all ages and was an avid fan of the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns. He was an avid reader of three home delivered newspapers and books and magazines relating to government, politics, social issues and sports.

He is survived by a daughter, Martha J. (Larry) Riggleman of Loudon, TN, son, Norman J. (Jeanette) LaVriha of Southport, NC; grandchildren Dean (Tamara) Riggleman of Atlanta, GA, Sheree Riggleman of Kalamazoo, MI; Kathleen (Michael) (LaVriha)Bonisa and Brian (Leslie) LaVriha and great-grandchildren, Hannah and Jacob Bonisa, all of Belmont NC; sister-in-law, Loretta Lavriha of Lorain.
He was preceded-in-death by his wife of 45 years, Olga W. (nee Dotzlaf) LaVriha in 1983, parents, Jacob (Jack) and Mary Louise (nee Kure) LaVriha, brothers, Anthony and William and sister, Mary Louise Ploszaj.

The family will receive friends at the Dombrowski-Humphrey-Riddle Funeral Home, 1939 Oberlin Avenue, Lorain, on Sunday, May 18, 2008 from 5:00 - 8:00 pm and on Monday, May 19, 2008 from 10:00 am until closing prayers at 11:30 am. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 12:00 pm at St. Mary Catholic Church, 7th and Reid Avenue, Lorain. Fr. James R. Becherer will be the celebrant along with Reverend Jimmy Madsen, associate pastor at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lorain, assisting. Burial with military honors will be in Ridge Hill Memorial Park, Amherst.

Condolence & Memory Journal

My dad was Al O'Neil. Jack was a great friend to my parents. They thought very highly of him. I have fond memories of Jack--great smile, great stories, great voice. He was also good friends with Ninabelle Becker who was my dad's secretary, so he was always in and out of our lives. I missed him at the last International Festival. When I would visit Lorain during the festival, I would hear that familiar voice emceeing the Festival. I was blessed to know Jack. My condolences to all of his family.

Posted by Peg O'Neil    May 19, 2008

My deepest sympathy on the loiss of Jack. My father, Louis Monos, was a friend of his and I had worked at the Journal with Jack in the late 50's. We had attended his 90th birthday party and shared many fond memories with him. We now share your sorrow at his passing. I had intended to attend the services, but unfortunately my car "died" last night and is being repaired. My sincerest wishes for the strength to carry you through your grief.

Posted by Carole (Monos) Smith    May 19, 2008

Your father will surely be missed. His passing has created a void for the city of Lorain which will never be filled. My father Bill and Jack were the consumate team fighting on behalf of all veterans in Lorain County. Jack was one of the last of the "greatest generation". And what a "great" man he was. My condolences to the family.

Posted by Joel E. Givner    May 18, 2008

Your father was a very dear man who helped to shape the Lorain Community, especially for the veterans living there and those who died serving our country. He and my father, William Givner, worked side by side for many years. One of the fondest memories I have as an adult is looking back and remembering the many parades down Broadway and seeing both of them at the podium. Our father's were dear friends and Jack spoke at dad's funeral. My condolences to you all, I am sorry for your loss.

Posted by Muri Givner Corzin    May 18, 2008

We are saddened to hear of your Father's passing. We had heard many times over the years how unique a person he was. His accomplishments were many and significant. One of his greatest legacies was his family. You all have been and continue to be very special to us. Our prayers are with you all at this time of grief in the loss of Jack.

Norma and Jimmy Jones

Posted by Norma and Jimmy Jones    May 17, 2008

Marty and Larry,
Barry and I want to express our sympathy to you and your family. 93 years is a full life but still difficult for families. You are in our prayers. Marilyn

Posted by Marilyn Becker    May 17, 2008

my deepest sympathy to the family. May God bless his family in this time of loss.

Posted by jim brookes    May 16, 2008

I am so glad I got to meet your dad at KJ's retirement. How lucky he was to have you all as family. With love and sympathy, Donna and John

Posted by Donna Ferraro    May 15, 2008

We send our deepest sympathy. Mr. LaVriha used to come to Gilbert's Food Store over 50 year's ago. He was always so nice to everyone. Then I met Martha and became even better acquainted with her father when I went to their home. He was a dear man and such an asset to Lorain, Ohio.

Bob and Judy

Posted by Bob and Judy Marks    May 15, 2008

What a wonderful and full life Jack LaVriha had. He touched so many lives in many positive ways. I know that you all must have such great individual memories of Jack LaVriha. May God bless each of you during this time of grief. Our thoughts and prayers are especially with Norm, Jeanette, Kathy and Michael.

Posted by Bill & Teresa Neely    May 15, 2008

I officially met Mr. LaVriha when I worked in the Safety Director's office for Tony Murello in 1984 and Jack was looking for someone to do some typing for him and to be the secretary for the Free Terry Anderson Committee. I also typed his Memorial Day Program book for many years after I left City Hall and came to the fire department, I think the last time was 2 yrs. ago but maybe it was 3. He was always such a nice man, so proud of his work, and it was so sad to see him deteriorating in later years. My condolences to the family.

Posted by Sue (Burgett) Mendez    May 15, 2008

I officially met Mr. LaVriha when I worked in the Safety Director's office for Tony Murello in 1984 and Jack was looking for someone to do some typing for him and to be the secretary for the Free Terry Anderson Committee. I also typed his Memorial Day Program for the Veterans Council for many years after I left City Hall and came to the fire department; I think the last time was 2 yrs. ago but maybe it was 3. He was always such a nice man, so proud of his work and his family- I heard many tales of his children and grandchildren, and it was so sad to see him deteriorating in later years. My condolences to you all.

Posted by Sue (Burgett) Mendez    May 15, 2008