Howard William Latton

PORTAGE – Howard William Latton, 101, of Portage, Wisconsin passed away in the evening of December 27, 2017.  At the time of his death, he was residing at the assisted living unit of Tivoli-Divine Savior in Portage.  Howard was very active and independent for all of his 101 years of life.  It was only in the last few weeks of his life that he stopped his daily trips into the community. 

Howard was born on April 27, 1916, in Medford Wisconsin.  He was the third child born to Ruth and Arthur Latton.  He graduated from Medford High School and followed his older brother, Delos, to the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  He worked his way through college by being a waiter in sorority houses and he was a clerk at one of the campus libraries. While he was working, he noticed an attractive coed who turned out to be Kathryn Smith. 

After college, he attended law school, also at the University of Wisconsin. After receiving his degree, he came to Portage to work for Dorothy Walker, one of the very few female attorneys in the state at that time. 

World War II had begun and Howard enlisted in the Army Air Force.  Before he left for Europe, he and Kay got married in Pecos, Texas.  Both sets of parents and Kay traveled together from Wisconsin to Texas.  It was not an easy time to travel as both gas and rubber (for tires) were rationed. 

Howard was stationed in England where he was a co-pilot flying B-17s, the Flying Fortress.  In 1944, his plane was shot down.  Howard barely escaped but he managed to parachute to the ground.  He was held in a POW detention camp until the end of the war.  Food was scarce and life was hard in the camps.  Later in life when his children were not eating their food with enthusiasm, he would comment that perhaps a few days of trying prison camp food would be a good experience.  His children were relieved that he never actually followed up on that idea. 

Eventually Howard returned home and he and Kay settled in Portage.  They had three children, Kristine, Nancy and Susan.

In the 1960s, Howard wanted to pursue his love of flying.  He bought a plane that the family could fit in and family vacations were taken by flying to various places.  For the next 30 years, Howard enjoyed taking family and friends up in his plane.  Many of these trips were short hops around the state but Kay and Howard routinely flew all over the country.  They very much enjoyed being members of the Flying Farmers Association. 

Howard resumed his career as an attorney.  In the 1950s, he was elected to the position of District Attorney which at that time was a part-time office.  Most of his career he was an attorney in private practice.  In the 1970s he was elected to office as a circuit court judge.  Kay acted as his campaign manager in all his elections.  Howard enjoyed being a judge very much and he continued as a reserve judge long after he retired.  He would sometimes fly to communities where he was assigned to work.  

In retirement, Kay and Howard spent winters in Sun City Center, Florida where they had many friends and enjoyed a variety of social activities. 

Howard liked to golf and he was a curler for much of his life.  Kay and Howard played bridge with friends regularly.  Howard was a member of Kiwanis plus he was active in many other community activities during his long life in Portage. 

Howard was predeceased by his parents, his wife, Kay, his sister, Lucile Binkert and brother, Delos.  He is survived by his three daughters, his son-in-law,  James Gill and six grandchildren – Todd Jacobsen, Scott Jacobsen (Anna), Tanya Mulvey (Conor), Dustin Jacobsen, Cody Gill ( Elizabeth),  and Logan Gill (Brooke),  and three great-grandchildren – Sonya, Kyle and Daria and son-in-law, Dennis Jacobsen.   

The family wants to thank the staff at Tivoli for the wonderful care they provided to Howard in the last year of his life.  They also extend their appreciation to the many people in Portage who were so kind to Howard.  Steve Rohrbeck has been a major support for both Howard and Kay for many, many years.  We want to thank Margaret Rudolph for her friendship and for organizing Howard’s 100th birthday celebration along with the entire Kiwanis club. 

Funeral services will be held starting at 2:00PM on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 850 Armstrong Street, Portage, Wisconsin with Pastor Greg Hovland officiating.  Visitation will begin at 12:30PM – 2:00PM. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Portage Center for the Arts, 301 E. Cook Street, Portage. 

Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage is assisting the family.  



For information please call 608 742-2126 (Portage, WI) or 608 635-2763 (Poynette, WI)