In paying tribute to loved ones that have passed away, "Celebration of Life" is often used, sometimes misused, to try and soothe the grief of family and friends. There can be no other or better way to speak of Tom LaRose's passing than as a Celebration of Life. If they hand out contracts at our birth on a life plan and how it ends, most would certainly sign up for Tom's. "Peacefully, at home, with family" are the words most would want to know that describes the final moments of a loved one's life. Thomas A. LaRose, born May 31, 1928, passed away of natural causes peacefully at home on September 22, 2022 surrounded by his family, great friend Tom Knoll and his late life aides, "nursies" (as he would call them), and companions Gwen Duchaine and January Seikel.
As beautiful as his passing was, so were the 94 years that preceded it. Tom was a great leader, but his first priority was to lead his family. He and his late-wife Jeanne were married for 66 beautiful, dedicated years. She was his leader and the guiding advisor for him and his success, while giving her incredible mothering love to their 5 children.
As much as he was a tremendous leader for his family, Tom was well regarded and respected as a leader in his community and in his business. Tom took over as President of The House of LaRose beer, wine and beverage distributor at the age of 32 after his father passed away at the very young age of 59. He and his uncles Joe and Pete LaRose led the company to impressive growth in territory and brands over the years. Today, because of his leadership, the company distributes products to over 5000 customers throughout greater Cleveland, Akron, and Canton. He made a great impact leading and developing Anheuser Busch brewery products, especially Budweiser, Michelob, and other brands. That success also followed in later years with the next generation taking on other beer and non-alcohol brands among them DG Yuengling, Constellation, Mike's Hard, Sparkling Ice and Rhinegeist. Tom held numerous leadership posts in the beverage industry, most notably as Chairman on the Anheuser Busch Distributor Advisory Panel. He was also a leader and board member of the National Beer Wholesalers Association and past President of the Wholesale Beer and Wine Association of Ohio. He held numerous community leadership and board positions and made countless contributions to many non-profit causes including but not limited to Akron Children's Hospital, Summa Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Keep Akron Beautiful, American Golf Sponsors and Northern Ohio Golf Charities.
Northeast Ohio gave so much to his family business, and Tom made it his business to give back. One of his leadership positions he was most proud of was as a board member of Firestone Country Club as well as Chairman of the PGA Tour American Golf Classic in Akron in 1974. His leadership in golf events grew out of his passion and skill for the game of golf. Tom taught his sons the game, some of whom may never forgive him for it ! He taught them not only the rules and skills needed to play the game, but also the camaraderie, integrity, and spirit the game teaches its players. Music was also a passion, especially the standards and jazz. Music was so important to Tom and Jeanne during their lives. Tom enjoyed his "happy hours" remembering Jeanne on the lake in his Florida home with his favorite beer or cocktail. Music was especially soothing to him in his final days and no doubt contributed to his peaceful passing.
Tom had quite a diverse and interesting path through life in his interests. He started as a curb boy in his youth at Swensons, a job he always prided himself on. In high school he was a quarterback at Akron Buchtel. He graduated from Ohio University with a Business degree where he learned how to fly planes and, which he loved until his "leader" Jeanne gave him reasons to fly closer to the ground. He was a partner in Consulting Services and Sports Talent Agency focusing on Pro Golfers and NFL players. He encountered many important and respected national and local figures, but his priorities always focused on his family, his business and his community.
Tom LaRose lived by the adage "Making Friends is our Business". He taught his children in the business and his managers how to lead their employees, customers, and suppliers with loyalty and integrity. Nobody made friends faster and with more loyalty than Tom. When he entered the room, he always made an impact and it usually involved something sarcastic and perhaps mildly insulting. He dished it out, but he loved to take it.
Tom's churches were also his passion. His childhood was spent at St Sebastian and much of his adult years were spent worshipping at St Vincent de Paul, both churches in Akron. Calling hours will be Thursday, Sept 29, 9:30-11:00am at St. Sebastian Catholic Church, 476 Mull Ave. Akron Ohio 44320, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00am. Interment to follow at Rose Hill Burial Park. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to The Akron Canton Food Bank.
Tom joins Jeanne, his beloved dogs Lady Bud and Sud-Z, his parents Thomas P and Josephine LaRose, along with his uncles and business partners Peter and Joe LaRose and their wives Lena and Joanne, along with his aunts Anita Bruno and husband Tommie, Jennifer Merlitti and her husband Dominic, and aunt Francis Turiano.
His children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were his great priority. He is survived by Thomas C. ( Tim ) and Lorrie Wright-LaRose and their children, Katherine ( Kat ) & Tony Figola, Jonathon & Christiana Wright, Matthew & Amanda Wright, Dayna Wright & Matt Cook, Landon & Annabel Wright. Daughter Ann LaRose Mcintyre and Husband Will, Frank LaRose and his children Frank LaRose Jr and Lauren LaRose, Sarah and Scott Maciejewski, Thomas and Kelly LaRose and Anthony LaRose. Mark LaRose and Marianne LaRose, and their children Brianna LaRose and Rocco LaRose his fiancé Carly Stewart, Jim LaRose and Joe'l LaRose and their children Nikki and Danielle LaRose. He was also loved many beautiful great grandchildren: Hadley, Ellison, Lainey. Preston, Aleksandra, Elyse, Vincent, Ashton, Eliott LaRose Finn Rolin, Hollis James Figola, Estella Rae Cook and August Alexander Wright.
A special salute to mom and dad's longtime Florida house manager as well as friend who was with them both in spirit, Rosario "Rosie" Lopardo. Also thank you to Summa Hospice and Dr. Troy Bishop for their care.
Tom was loved, and he loved back. He will be so missed, but Jeanne is waiting in the golf cart and it's just about tee time. Time to go Tom, give her a huge hug and a kiss. Jump in and go play....A life well played!!