BOWLING GREEN — Delbert “Del” Latta, a member of the U.S. Congress for 30 years representing parts of 15 counties, including Putnam County, died Thursday. Latta, 96, served as a Republican 15 terms, representing Ohio’s Fifth District from 1959 until his retirement in 1989.
“My dad, former Congressman Del Latta, a great Dad and a great man, passed from this life today and is with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” current Fifth District Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green wrote on Facebook.
Several current lawmakers have offered condolences to the Latta family, reflecting on Latta’s positive contribution to American politics.
“I was proud to have served with Rep. Del Latta and I extend my heartfelt sorrow and condolences to Bob Latta and his family,” Gov. John Kasich wrote on Twitter.
“He was someone who knew how to get things done for the citizens of his northwest Ohio district and the American people,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a press release.
“His legacy of honest, decent public service and his commitment to promoting civic involvement will forever be remembered,” U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, wrote on Facebook.
Born March 5, 1920, in Weston, Latta attended school first in North Baltimore and then in McComb, where he graduated in 1938. He received his post-secondary education at Findlay College and then at Ohio Northern University, where he obtained his law degree.
“We’re proud to call him one of our graduates,” according to Rick Bales, dean of ONU’s Petit College of Law.
Latta served in the U.S. military from 1938 to 1943. After the end of World War II, Latta practiced law and taught at ONU before being elected to the Ohio Senate in 1952 and then to the U.S. House of Representatives seven years later.
“Two things really stuck out to me from his biography,” Bales said. “He always made a point to keep in touch with his constituents. He was a fairly conservative Republican, but he always got along well with Democrats, something that many current politicians could learn a lesson from.”
Among the legislations that Latta helped create were the 1981 Gramm-Latta Budget Bill and the 1982 Latta-Michel Bill, two important pieces in the Reagan economic blueprint. After retiring from Congress, Latta served on the boards of three universities, receiving several honorary doctorates.
He is survived by his wife, Rose Mary (Kiene), two children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at McComb Church of Christ. Visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home & Crematory, Bowling Green.