Leon “Lee” Francis Tatara, 77, returned peacefully to his heavenly home on April 8, 2018 after a long and fulfilling life and a short struggle with cancer. His devotion to his family and his firm belief in God supported him and ultimately gave him peace.
Leon was born to the late Leon and Irene (Wojcik) Tatara in Amsterdam, New York on July 13, 1940. He was raised in the Polish Catholic community of Saint John the Baptist Parish. He graduated from Wilbur Lynch High School, Amsterdam, NY in 1958, where he met Christine Wytrwal, his high school sweetheart; they married on October 5, 1963, had two children, four grandchildren, and shared 54 blessed years together as husband and wife.
Leon began his professional career as a draftsman for Yale Lock Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut after attaining an Associate’s Degree from Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering (University of Bridgeport, Connecticut), he worked as a mechanical engineer for the Eaton Corporation and for Schlage Lock (a division of Ingersoll Rand). During his career, he moved with his family to several locations, including Bridgeport, Connecticut; Charlotte, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California where he retired as an Engineering Manager for Schlage Lock in 1999. Over the course of his career, Leon secured numerous patents in the field of home security, pioneering the transition from mechanical drafting to computer-aided design (CAD). His team launched the use of keycards and electronic locks that are now standard in the hotel industry.
After retirement, Leon and Christine made their final move to Gig Harbor, WA in 2005 to be close to their children Dr. Christopher Paul (Catherine Andrew) Tatara, and Carol Leigh (Greg) Rivera. Leon treasured his role as a devoted grandfather to granddaughters (Dr. Genevieve Tatara (Physical Therapy) and Elizabeth Tatara, B.S. Finance), and grandsons (Colin Rivera (Saint Martin’s University) and Brenden Rivera, Gig Harbor H.S.).
Leon earned his Eagle Scout award, and was very involved in mentoring youth as an assistant scoutmaster in California and as a volunteer for Boy Scouts of America in Gig Harbor, WA. He was proud to see his son and both grandsons achieve the rank of Eagle Scout (4 Eagles). In his spare time, Leon enjoyed family vacations focused on camping, fishing, boating, and outdoor activities. Leon appreciated the beauty of nature and shared this passion with his wife Christine. They worked to produce an orchard of fruit trees and berry bushes, and a garden of herbs and vegetables. Together, they shared in the tilling, planting, tending, harvesting, preserving, and sharing of the harvest. One of Leon’s great joys was to cook and share a great meal with family and friends.
Leon is survived by his sister Barbara (Tom) Dolansky, brother Richard Tatara, sister-in-law Jane (Tatara) as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his brother Thomas Tatara.
Leon’s funeral mass will be celebrated at Saint Nicholas Catholic Church in Gig Harbor, Washington on Saturday April 14, 2018 at 10 AM followed by a short reception. His burial location is the Haven of Rest (Gig Harbor, Washington). A memorial mass will be celebrated at Saint Stanislaus Catholic Church in Amsterdam, New York on May 20, 2018.