WEIRTON - Al Lauttamus started preparing for his future communications career by climbing a utility pole in the family home backyard on Washington Pike.
"Al was interested at an early age in climbing the poles so his father had the utility pole put in so his son could practice his climbing skills," related Michael O'Brien of Wellsburg.
Lauttamus died Thursday. His funeral was held Sunday afternoon at the Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home in Weirton.
"Al was always a very faithful friend and supporter of festivals and events in Wellsburg starting with the first Apple Festival in 1969. We would see Al climbing the utility poles in downtown Wellsburg to put up the electric lines for the vendors who were participating in the festival. His relationship with Wellsburg goes back to his high school days when he first got involved with the Fourth of July committee. He would also string wire for the walkie talkies used for the Oil Can Derby. He was always ready to help us with everything in Wellsburg," said O'Brien, chairman of the Apple Festival.
After graduating from Wellsburg High School in 1962 Lauttamus attended the Pittsburgh Technical Institute and then started working at C & P Telephone Company.
Approximately 40 years ago Lauttamus started what became Lauttamus Communications and Security in his garage and saw his business grow to include customers throughout the United States.
"Al was my neighbor when I was managing the Wine and Beverage business in Weirton. He was a great guy who will be certainly missed by the Weirton community. His heart was always in Weirton. He worked very hard to see his business become successful," said Nick Latousakis.
"If something needed done in the community Al was there. I just saw him 10 days ago and he was planning on going south for some warmer weather. This is part of life but we never expect this. Al is going to be missed a great deal. He was always ready to give back to the community," shared Latousakis.
Lauttamus was also remembered by Mark Glyptis, president of the United Steelworkers Union Local 2911 for his support of the steelworkers and the local steel industry.
"When we organized the Stand Up for Steel rallies in the 1990s Weirton and then Washington, D.C, Al was the first businessman to step forward to offer his support. We organized 77 buses for the Stand Up For Steel rally in Washington, D.C. and Al donated enough walkie talkies so we had one on each bus. We took more than 5,500 people on that trip and those Lauttamus walkie-talkies were invaluable in helping us keep everyone in contact and organized for the trip," said Glyptis.
"Al Lauttamus also offered a dedicated telephone number so we could post messages for our union members to call in and listen to. He was a true friend of the steelworkers," declared Glyptis.
Weirton Mayor George Kondik has known Lauttamus since he started his communications business.
"The city of Weirton has conducted a lot of business with Al and his son Paul Lauttamus. He was a very dedicated community person. Al was always involved in our community. His passing is a great loss to his family and to the Weirton community. He was generous in so many ways to all local charities in the area. He will be missed," stated Kondik.
Jenny Anderson, president of the Rotary Club of Weirton Heights said Lauttamus, "always made me smile. He was just a nice, nice man who was also a great person to know."
Lauttamus was a charter member of the club, which dedicated its Mardi Gras Gala fundraiser Saturday to his memory.
Barb Owens of the Fairfield Inn of Suites of Weirton met Lauttamus through the Rotary.
"He was a wonderful man. Al was also very inspirational to me after I lost my late husband. He was one of the original members of the Rotary Club of Weirton Heights. And Al always tried to make you feel good and make you smile. Rotary was very important to him," said Owens.
Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce President Brenda Mull said Lauttamus was always supportive of Rotary and Chamber projects.
"I saw Al every Tuesday morning at our Rotary Club meetings. He was my friend and a friend to many people in Weirton. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He will definitely be missed by the community he loved," remarked Mull.
Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to the Weirton Heights Rotary Club.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)