December 2, 2011

Letters and comments concerning the late Lawrence Lasker, a most inspirational Levittown Division Avenue teacher

Some of us when we die will be quickly forgotten. A few live on in thoughts and memories. Long-time Division Avenue High School teacher Lawrence Lasker had a profound influence on his students and is well remembered. He passed away on Feb. 6, 2011 and his obituary was posted in this blog on Feb. 20.

Recently, we received the following emails from Mr. Lasker's grandson Josh, and son Ken.

Mr. Barning,

My name is Josh Lasker, and I'm a current sophomore at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. I just came across your blog posts mentioning my grandfather, Lawrence Lasker, and just wanted to write a little note to express my appreciation for your tribute and all of the comments that it generated.

Soon after his divorce and retirement he followed my dad Ken, out to Jamestown NY right before my oldest brother was born. He lived there and watched (and helped) my brothers and I grow up for the rest of his life. He also fell in love again with a woman named Joanne, who was just as wonderful as he was. She passed away months before him in August of 2010 and he grew sick soon after. His life was full of tragedy but he never let it get him down.

I felt so close to him, and he was a hero to me, just like it seems he was to his students, and I cannot express how much I learned from him. I'm so happy so many others were touched before I even came to be. He never did stop inspiring people.

Thank you again Mr. Barning,


Josh Lasker

I am Ken Lasker, Larry's son. My son Josh just sent me this link and the comments really touched me. My Dad and I were extremely close and he moved up here to Western NY after he retired and we were best friends, and he helped me raise my three sons, who he adored.

I probably met some of you while tagging along with my Dad at various functions at Division and I know how much he loved his students. He would've loved reading this and no doubt would've been misty-eyed doing so. Thanks so much for all of the kind comments. He was an amazing man. A great father and grandfather and incredible teacher. Luckily he has passed on so many of his wonderful traits to my sons to carry on his legacy of kindness and love for people. Thank you for thinking so much of him. I have a heavy heart this morning.

From Dewain Lanfear who graduated in 1960 and also taught at his alma mater:

Thank you for sending me the letters from Mr. Lasker's son and grandson in advance of your posting them, Frank. They are justifiably proud of him. I had the privilege of knowing him when I was a student and then throughout most of my career as a teacher in Levittown.

He was wildly popular with his students at DAHS, always caring and fair. As an assistant principal he was well liked and respected by the faculty, and unfailingly caring and just dealing with students in this role. . His responsibility was often to be a disciplinarian, but he usually sought out the cause of the misbehavior and found ways to resolve these problems. He "straightened out" a lot of potential trouble makers by listening to their problems and working to alleviate them.

I respected his ability to stay above the school district politics. He knew the game and the players, he just didn't compromise his sense of right and wrong for the sake of advancement. Wherever he went, he made his corner of the district a better place.


DeleteAnonymousFrom June Johnson, class of 1963
He was the best! I felt honored to have him as my teacher.


AnonymousBrian Fisher, class of 1961

The news of Mr. Lasker passing away saddens me. I really enjoyed his cit ed class, and he was a very good teacher. I will never forget this man and his teachings. Mr. Lasker will always remain in my heart.


AnonymousMarilyn Monsrud Frese, class of 1963

Thank you Frank for finding and posting this tribute to a wonderful teacher. He touched many in a way that many of our old teachers could never do. If you needed someone to talk about ANYTHING, he was the man! He helped shape many of our lives by his wise and amusing ways. He was a hero in both serving his country (he LOVED to tell old war stories) and in his influence on young people. He will be missed!

BloggerSusan Chasin Ross, class of 1962
I had Mr. Lasker for 7th and 9th grade Cit.Ed...and then moved away. I would come and visit him over the next few years. I called him about 10 years ago when I heard he was ailing, to let him know that he had meant a lot to me. I have always told my students and my daughter to let teachers that had a positive effect on their lives know. I don't think there is anything a teacher would rather hear than a student telling him/her this. My heartfelt condolences to his family. RIP.


Arnie Galeota, class of 1961
Mr. Lasker was my homeroom teacher. Always a pleasant guy. Don't remember hearing one negative comment from anyone about Mr. Lasker. I'm sorry he's gone. Didn't know he was in combat in Korea. He never spoke about it.

DeleteKathy Stahlman Zinn, class of 1963

I had Mr. Lasker for 9th grade Cit Ed. He was a great teacher and had a wonderful sense of humor - always a twinkle in his eye. He was enthusiastic about his subject - at the time I thought of history as boring - and government - even more so! But he made it compelling. He was younger than I thought - I had thought he was a WW II vet. The world is poorer for his passing.


Bill Fey, class of 1968

I had Larry Lasker and I don't remember a single day from the time I met him as my teacher till I graduated in '68, where he didn't have a smile on his face or a twinkle in his eye. Hearing about his tour at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier...I can believe that for he was a special human being and they only took special people. Rest in peace.


AnonymousAnonymous wrote:

Mr. Lasker sometimes talked about his Korean War experiences in Social Studies class. I vividly remember him telling us about the Korean national dish - fermented cabbage that was buried in the backyard for a time, then exhumed and eaten as a condiment. I thought he was making it up. Of course, he wasn't. In the years since kimchi has become a foodie obsession in this country.

Twenty years later I ran into someone else from D.A.H.S. at a pub in London, and we spent all night talking about Mr. Lasker over pints of Greene King Abbot Ale.


AnonymousRick DeMeis, class of 1964

What a wonderful person and great teacher--always approachable with a great sense of humor.

Carol Binninger Mondello, class of 1964

Larry Lasker was a wonderful person. He was an excellent teacher, confidant and friend. The first word that comes to mind to describe him is..RESPECT! I was involved in Masonic activities through out my teens...Mr. Lasker was always there. He was one of the greatest influences on my FAVORITE teacher...and friend...he taught with his actions. I am in tears...he will be missed...but I will remember him always because of the joy he brought others...Delete

AnonymousJay Barabash, class of 1963
He was truly an inspiration and a profoundly positive influence.


From Susan Hill, class of 1965
He was my class advisor and truly was an inspiration to many, he will be missed.Delete


Lou Zinser, class of 1966
I was in Larry's class and had a great time. It is amazing how little we know about the person. What an honor to be a guard for the unknown soldiers, they were hand picked and were the cream of the crop.


Note: Lou provided your blogger with Mr. Lasker's obituary in February and if he hadn't, all of these memories of a great Levittown teacher could not have been posted.


Lawrence J. Lasker, 81, of Lakewood, N.Y., died Feb. 6, 2011, in his home.

He was born June 13, 1929, in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of Hyman and Ida Allen Lasker. He was a graduate of Brooklyn College, where he earned both a bachelor's degree in economics, and a Master of Arts degree in public administration.

A U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, he had served as a paratrooper and was very proud to have served as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

Prior to retiring, he had been employed as a social studies teacher and assistant principal at the Division Avenue and Gen. Douglas McArthur High Schools with the Levittown, N.Y. public schools district.

He was a member of Temple Hesed Abraham, Mt. Moriah Lodge #145, Free and Accepted Masons, the Jamestown Shrine Club, Ismalia Temple A.A.O.N.M.S., and the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club.

Larry loved to dote on his grandchildren, enjoyed traveling, and was an avid reader. He was a big sports fan, but especially loved the New York Mets.

Surviving are a son, Kenneth M. (Abbie) Lasker, of West Ellicott; a daughter, Lois A. (Leo) Vatkin, of Patterson, N.Y.; seven grandchildren: Dan Lasker, of Long Beach, Calif., Eric and Josh Lasker, both of West Ellicott, and William, Ilana, Dylan, and Esther Vatkin, all of Patterson, N.Y.; a sister, Doris Drantch, of Hewlitt, N.Y.; three stepsons: Jeff (Debbie), Mike (Sue), and Gary Erlandson; four step-grandchildren: Kyle, Drew, Emelie, and Dan Erlandson; and two step-great-grandchildren: Finn and Owen Erlandson.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Joanne Erlandson Lasker, who died Aug. 2, 2010; and by a brother, Donald Lasker.


Anonymous said...

Midge Bollinger Finck, Class of 1960 wrote...

Again another great job. For all of us it was a blessing to know Larry. I had the great pleasure of working with Mr. Lasker as Larry
when I was active in PTA. Staying in Levittown like Marilyn Monsrud we would really blessed to get to know the teachers we loved and respected and still have them a part of our lives and those of our children. My children maybe did not have them as a teacher, but got to know them on a more personal level. My oldest daughter was an Amen's Angel. Mr. Amen had a group of students that would go to nursing homes with him.

So again thank you for all the good you have done and all the memories you have kept alive.

Marilyn Monsrud Frese said...

It's funny how we (or at least me) never thought about the families of our teachers until we grew up and became parents ourselves. It must have been a wonderful experience- "Growing Up With Mr. Lasker"! We grew up with his amazing caring and enouragement for 45 minutes a day...I can only imagine how special he must have been as a Dad and Grandpa if he was that special to us, his students. He touched so many...and is remembered so fondly.