Thomas John Legath, 68, Vietnam vet, Akron and Clay Elementary School principal, sports coach

By on March 2, 2016

Thomas John Legath, 68, of Lancaster passed away Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, at Hospice and Community Care, surrounded by his loving family following a long, courageous journey battling neuroendocrine cancer. He is now in the presence of God.

Tom was married to Vicki (Miller) Legath, his college sweetheart at Kutztown University. They recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Oct. 25, 2015.

Surviving in addition to his wife is a son: Thomas Meade Legath of Sinking Spring, married to Jennifer E. (Berta); and a daughter: Tara Elizabeth (Legath) George of Lancaster, married to William R. George. Three beautiful grandchildren were the light of his life: Ava Rose Legath, Colin Thomas Legath, and Taylor Rose George. He is also survived by his brother: Eugene Legath of Allentown; his mother-in-law: Shirley Parker of Mount Joy; and many nieces and nephews whom he loved dearly, also survive him.

Tom’s family will always cherish summer vacations in Avalon, N.J. He loved spending time at the beach with his family and friends, dancing with his grandchildren, and driving in his convertible with the top down.

Tom was born in Allentown, Lehigh County to the late Rose (Isaacson) Legath and Ulrich John Legath. He was predeceased by an infant brother.

He graduated from Dieruff High School in Allentown and was drafted into the United States Army in 1967. Tom completed basic training at Fort Bragg, N.C.; and was then assigned to advanced infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga. He completed riot control training at Fort Campbell, Ky. On April 4, 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., Tom was a member of the unit assigned to riot control in Memphis. For 13 months from 1968-1969, Tom proudly served his country during the Vietnam War in the 199th light infantry brigade.

After serving in Vietnam, Tom earned an associate’s degree in business from Lehigh County Community College. He graduated from Kutztown University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and later earned a master’s degree in education administration from Lehigh University. Tom began his teaching career at Moser Elementary in the Allentown School District, where he taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. From 1985-1988, Tom was assistant principal at Washington Elementary School in the School District of Lancaster. He served as principal of Akron Elementary School in the Ephrata Area School District (EASD) from 1988-1998, becoming Director of Elementary Education in EASD for three of these years. In 1998, He was named principal of Clay Elementary School in EASD until his retirement in 2008. He was particularly proud of the school expansion and renovation project, which took place at Clay in 2003-2004.

Tom had a deep passion and pride in the school, students, and staff at Akron and Clay schools. Throughout his career, he was loved by staff and students. Everyone welcomed his wonderful hugs and smiles. After retirement, Tom worked as an adjunct instructor at Harrisburg Area Community College in Lancaster.

Tom was a past president and member of the Kutztown Optimist Club. He coached youth soccer, basketball, and baseball in the Kutztown and Manheim Township communities. Through the 1970s, Tom was a PIAA basketball referee in Lancaster and Berks counties. He was a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, where he served on Church Council from 1994-1996.

The family would like to especially thank the following people for their care of Tom throughout his illness: Dr. Roger Cohen and Dr. John Kucharczuk (Abramson Cancer Center, Hospital of University of Penn); Dr. Larry Kaiser (Temple University Medicine); Dr. Randall Oyer (Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Center); nurses and staff on 6 East (LGH); the entire staff of Hospice and Community Care.

A visitation will be held at Charles F. Snyder Jr. Funeral Home & Crematory, 3110 Lititz Pike, Lititz, on Sunday, March 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. Friends may call again on Monday, March 7, at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10 Delp Road, from 9:30 to 11 a.m., with a funeral service to follow at 11 a.m. with Pastor Craig Ross officiating. Interment with full military honors will be in St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Cemetery, 62 Valley Road, Neffsville.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Tom’s memory to Hospice and Community Care of Lancaster County, 685 Good Drive, Lancaster, PA 17604-4125; or the Veteran’s Honor Park of Lancaster County/Warwick Township, 315 Clay Road, Lititz, PA 17543.

Online condolences may be given at snyderfuneralhome.com.  Charles F. Snyder Jr. Funeral Home & Crematory, Lititz, handled the arrangements.

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One Comment

  1. Kim Armer

    March 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    May we say how sorry we are for your loss. Mr. Legath was my son’s principal at Akron Elementary in 1994/95. He was a very commanding man but with a huge heart. My son remembers mostly this booming voice that resonated down the cavernous hallways of Akron Elementary. He was a giant of a man who carried the compassion and heart for the children that he watched over. He will most assuredly will be remembered for many, many years.

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