Deceased September 10, 2010
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Walter Oscar Latzko died Sept. 10, 2010, age 86. He was born in Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia, on Feb. 9, 1924, and became a U.S. citizen in 1943, after serving in the U.S. Army.
At Amherst, Walter belonged to Theta Delta Chi, The Jeff (2) as sports editor; Touchstone (2); Amherst Press (2); Glee Club (2, 3, 4) President (4); Double Quartet (4); C.A. (1, 2); Choir (3, 4); Scarab (4). He graduated cum laude with a degree in music.
Walter attended Columbia University, studying for a master’s degree in music composition. Although he accumulated the required credits, he left without the degree because “his studies overlapped with his first job as the music arranger and coach for the Chordettes on the Arthur Godfrey show.” Walter was also a joke writer and musician for Godfrey’s radio and TV shows as well as Jack Stirling’s CBS Morning radio show, Garry Moore and Durward Kirby. During this time, he arranged eight albums for the Buffalo Bills of “Music Man” fame.
After suffering a stroke, Walter retired as librarian for the Harness Racing Museum in 1991 but continued doing some research for them. He also continued to compose arrangements for barbershop groups in the U.S., Europe and South Africa.
Internationally recognized in barbershop circles, Walter was inducted into the Barbershop Harmony Hall of Fame, the Mid-Atlantic District Hall of Honor and named Man of Merit by the Association of International Senior Quartet Champions.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Marjorie Needham, a Chordette famous for recording “Mr. Sandman;” a daughter, Melanie Bradley; two sons, Jeffrey and Curtis Latzko; seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, two step-siblings and a brother-in-law.
He will be missed.
—Celeste Ringuette W’48