Henry Laseke ~ 1923-2013
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By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
The name of Henry Laseke, the 89-year-old man who died tragically Thursday when his SUV careened into a retention basin in Arlington Heights, resonates with longtime village residents.
They remember how he and his father, also named Henry Laseke, ran Laseke Disposal in Arlington Heights for more than a half-century.
"It was a longtime business in town," says Lloyd Meyer, whose family started Meyer Brothers Dairy in Arlington Heights around the same time.
"Of course, garbage pickup was much different then. They were the only ones in town."
For more than 50 years Laseke Disposal Service hauled waste in Arlington Heights. Laseke's father started the business with a small pickup truck and it eventually grew large enough to keep up with the suburb's exploding population.
"When Laseke took over, he started with a pickup truck so small that any of the scavenger trucks prowling our streets today could have eaten it in one bite," wrote history columnist Margery Frisbie in 2004.
The senior Henry Laseke died in 1973, but his son continued to operate the company.
"He was a nice guy," says Charlotte Lattof, whose husband and son ran Lattof Chevrolet in Arlington Heights. "He was a big burly man, with big hands."
She adds that he was a faithful customer of the dealership and bought a new Chevy every year.
Laseke continued to run the disposal company until he lost Arlington Heights' waste hauling contract in 1978, said Village Clerk Becky Hume, saying that's when trustees awarded it to a competitor, Theta Systems.
"The bidding process opened in September, 1978 and the finance committee discussed it for several meetings," Hume said. "Theta Systems' bid was less expensive for backdoor service and slightly more expensive for the curbside service.
"Ultimately, that's what it came down to," Hume added, "a cost issue."
Meyer remembers that the Laseke ran the disposal service office out of a building on the northeast corner of Dryden Avenue and Northwest Highway. When customers came in, Laseke and his wife, Mary, who worked part time in the office, would help them.
"They never had any children," Meyer said.
Helen (Jensen) Whisler, former village trustee and village nurse, remembers that Laseke closed the business when he lost the Arlington Heights account, and he eventually went into retirement.
Laseke continued to frequent longtime family businesses in Arlington Heights, though, including Lattof. When the dealership closed its doors in 2008, Laseke was on hand for its last day.
In a Daily Herald story covering the closing, Laseke recalled how Nicholas Lattof and his father had been friends since 1936, and how they both had helped to build the community with their longtime businesses.