Class Agent Nicholas John (Toot) LaGattuta of Harrison N.Y., died on March 15, 2009, at age 82. He was born Aug. 3, 1926, in New York City.
During World War II, John served with distinction in the U.S. Navy as a pharmacist mate 2nd class. He entered the Class of 1948 at Amherst, and he became a member of Phi Delta Theta. Following graduation from Amherst, John studied optometry at Columbia Univ. where he received a master of science degree and a doctorate from the New England School of Optometry. He then started his successful optometric practice in the Bronx.
After retiring from private practice, John became a certified E.M.T. and served on the board of the Harrison, N.Y., Volunteer Ambulance Corps until his death.
Toot is known as the hard working and devoted Amherst Alumni Fund Class agent for the Class of 1948, a function he served for many years. He remarked that writing letters for contributions “fun,” as he kept in touch with his classmates. John was also the hard working and intelligent co-chairman of the 1947-1948 Reunion celebrations, where he was often heard playing the accordion. For the 50th Reunion, he authored, The Unique History of the Classes 1947 and 1948 Otherwise Known as the Twin Classes. This is a collection of items from newspapers, pictures of people and places relating to the life and times of the Classes of 1947-1948 and the classes themselves.
Recently, he sent his contribution to the Notes for this issue of the Amherst magazine. John wrote: “This winter has been bad—medically. December 2008 had a tumor removed from my bladder-CA, but it didn’t spread. February first week had a gallbladder attack which required surgery-CA, but it didn’t spread. In hospital for 10 days and 10 days in rehab. Problems developed because of overweight. Developed C.O.P.D. and emphysema—affects my breathing. Under prescription for it. I don’t need oxygen yet. Shades of Lou Lyman with an oxygen bottle. Still recuperating from the operation. Don’t travel much. Went back to work, Saturdays and at a nursing home examining patients for glasses. Otherwise, a dull winter.”
Helen Aurichio and Toot were married in 1957. She survives him with two sons, Michael and John, and five grandchildren.
He will be missed.
—Adrien L. Ringuette ’48