Andy Latincsics' wife, Dawn, hugs Andy's best friend, Lorne MacDonald, before the race held to celebrate Andy's life.
Photos by Laurie Gordon
By Laurie Gordon MIDDLETOWN — On Sunday, running friends of Andy Latincsics traveled from all over the region to gather at The Orange Runners Club Winter Series 5K in Middletown, New York. They were there to celebrate Latincsics' life by doing something he had loved to do: run. Latincsics, of Newton, passed away unexpectedly on June 20, 2016. He was a devoted husband to his high school sweetheart, best friend and wife, Dawn. She wasn't only at the race, she ran in it, proudly wearing one of her husband's Orange Runners Club shirts. Their children, Tyler and Molly wanted to be there, but when Molly came down with a bad sickness, had to stay at home to get her better. There were kids Latincsics had coached and taught at both Morris Tech and Kittatinny high schools toeing the line, too, and coaches he'd worked with. Above all, there were people he'd met through the sport of running which brings together those of all sizes, shapes, religions, walks-of-life and ages. At the forefront was Lorne MacDonald. He and Latincsics had met at a race years ago, and despite their 20 year age difference were best friends. Latincsics loved the Orange Runners Club Winter Series, and so the club decided to dedicate their second race in the annual series to his memory. Wiping back tears, MacDonald addressed the crowd a few minutes before the race's start underscoring what a good friend, father and husband Latincsics had been as well as not just an outstanding runner, but one who gave back through the sport. “He loved running and also giving back through the sport as a coach and teacher,” MacDonald said. Latincsics' passing had come as a complete shock to everyone who had known him. He wasn't just a well-known local runner, he won a lot of races and was one of the best. On days he didn't run, he biked. “He was just the last person anyone would expect to suddenly die at age 50,” said running friend, Al Siuta. That happened on the last day of school at Morris Vo-Tech where Latincsics taught science. He'd gotten there early to work out before the day began and had a “medical episode” that took his life. Latincsic's father had cardiomyopathy, so he was at risk. An autopsy revealed three big blockages in his heart: something all of the running and biking in the world could not have prevented. Traditionally, on that day, Latincsics would have come home and whipped out the CD “School's Out for Summer” and change into his summer clothes. At the Latincsics house, summmer was “Daddy time.” At first glance, running may not appear to be a tool of giving. Everyone knew Latincsics ran, but there was more to the vast number of miles he left behind... miles he put in through icy, snowy winters, pouring rain, hot, humid sun and muddy trails. Latincsics gave through his running teaching those his own age, those older than himself and mostly, those budding youth runners about the many physical, mental, psychological and spiritual aspects of the sport. He led by example and this is the legacy he leaves behind. Latincsics' favorite band was AC/DC, and the race coordinators obliged this love by playing the band's songs throughout the course. A photo cake bearing pictures of Latincsics was presented after the 5K race. “He was just a really, really, really great guy,” said running friend, Bob Burt, of Newton.