James Robert Lathan was born in Union City, TN because his father's insurance company job required him to travel and his mother didn't want to be alone when he was born. James Robert Lathan and his mother returned to Chicago, IL a few weeks after his birth. He lived in Chicago until he was about five years of age, when his dad was transferred to Kansas. He grew up in Wichita, KA and eventually returned to Chicago in 1953.
James Robert Lathan was a partner in an engineering & architectural firm Ralph Burke Associates. The firm employed: civil engineers, architects, statisticians. He did a lot of feasibility studies and were airport planners. They did the original plan for O'Hare in Chicago, parking facilities, parks and recreation work, and shore protection projects on the Great Lakes. He was the partner-in-charge of the parking division and came into a project when parking was involved. Clients of the firm included, many municipalities, hospitals and universities. His employment involved extensive travel. As he put it in an e-mail, he traveled "...from Boston to Miami to Vancouver, B.C. to San Diego and a great many places in between." Projects of particular interest to this researcher where those in Virginia which included a major airport update which included planning, construction and supervision at Richmond (Sandston) and Norfolk, and a number of projects at the U of VA - mostly at the hospital. Ralph Burke Associates was absorbed by another firm a couple of years after he retired . He also spent a six-month tour as a civilian employee at the Philidelphia Naval Shipyard.
On a personal note I, the website owner, exchanged numerous Email messages and paper messages with James Lathan. He and I shared views on the political state of the nation, the states we lived in and the world in general. Most of the time we totally agreed with each other and when we didn't, and that was VERY rare, we agreed on most of the substance of whatever we were then discussing. He had a brilliant mind. Moreover was that he defined two words and did so with grace and style. Those words were: Survivor and Overcome. He had suffered polio when much younger and survived and then made himself a sucessful career and family as described here. More so than the physical things was his mind. I loved each and every one of our exchanges and miss them terribly. As to surviving and overcoming with STYLE, he sent me a family photo including himself. This photo was taken late in life when the damage polio had first done came back on him and cause him to have to retire and then later depend on a ventilator most of the time. He captioned that photo, "... and me with my sylish neck gear..". He may have used the word "tie". The exact word escapes me. The point was that the place his ventilator attached showed in the photo and he cracked a joke about it. Wow! What a guy. I wish I could deal with my rather insignificant problems as well as he did with his much more serious problem.
James Robert Lathan died October 29, 2012. His obituary is below.
James R. "Bob" Lathan Sr. of Arlington Heights James R. "Bob" Lathan Sr. was born on Sept. 5, 1928, in Union City, TN, to Robert and Ruth (nee Marshall) Lathan. He passed away on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Arlington Heights. Mr. Lathan worked as an architectural engineer. James is survived by his wife of 57 years, Dolores M. Lathan; his children, James R. Lathan Jr., Marian (Steve) Nisbett, Gregory (Tammy) Lathan, Mark (Barbara) Lathan and Maureen (Dave) Cooke; his grandchildren, Jillian, Allison, Sean, Katelyn, Megan, Daniel, Matthew, Leah and Elise. He was preceded in death by his parents; and his sister, Ramona Moore. Visitation will be from 4 until 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, at Glueckert Funeral Home, Ltd., 1520 N. Arlington Heights Road (four blocks south of Palatine Road), Arlington Heights. Prayers will be said at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the funeral home, proceeding to Southminster Presbyterian Church, 916 E. Central Road, Arlington Heights, for services at 10 a.m. Interment will be in All Saints Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the American Cancer Society , 1114 N. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60004. Funeral information and condolences can be given at www.GlueckertFH.com or 847-253-0168.