Despite challenges, Mike Lattof 'lived a fuller life'
Mike Lattof appeared in numerous theatrical productions with Clearbrook on Cue, but his favorite was in 2016 when he played the title role in "Robin Hood."
Some would say he was typecast. While he was no outlaw, Lattof was beloved by all who knew him and described him as outgoing, friendly and uplifting to all he met.
Lattof passed away Sept. 2 after a long illness. He was 61.
Family members say he doubled his life expectancy and they credit his positive, active lifestyle and his involvement with Clearbrook in Arlington Heights to extending and enriching his life.
"Clearbrook was such a gift to Mike and our family," said his mother, Charlotte Lattof, who served on the board of Clearbrook and whose husband, Warren, who was president of Lattof Chevrolet in Arlington Heights.
Based in Arlington Heights, Clearbrook provides services to more than 8,000 children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, as well as their families, across the region.
Its largest facility, the 85-bed Intermediate Care Facility in Rolling Meadows, is named for the Lattof family. Fittingly, Mike Lattof spent his final two years at Lattof Commons.
"I like to think that all of the families appreciate what we do for their loved ones at Clearbrook," said Clearbrook President Tony Di Vittorio, "but some appreciate in a way that benefits a lot of families."
Mike Lattof became involved with Clearbrook when he attended the career life skills program at Elk Grove High School. He would attend school in the morning before working at Clearbrook's sheltered workshop in the afternoon.
By 1982, he moved into one of Clearbrook's group homes with other men with disabilities. He traveled by bus every day to the workshop, where he excelled in assembly work and enjoyed socializing with his co-workers, before returning home.
Lattof lived in group homes in Palatine, Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates, and mostly with the same housemates, family members say.
"They became his second family," brother Allen Lattof said. "They were like brothers. Even when they moved, the guys always stayed together."
About the time Mike Lattof moved out of his family's home, he was diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome. The genetic disorder often leads to a feeling of constant hunger, as well as obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
In order to combat the effects, Lattof worked out regularly at Northwest Community Hospital's Wellness Center, where he thrived on the exercise regimen. He also competed in Special Olympics and with the Bowling Buddies league and basketball team, both organized by Clearbrook.
"I think we were ahead of our time," Di Vittorio said, "by giving clients the chance to live in the community and provide opportunities that might otherwise be out of their reach.
"Mike personified that, with everything he was involved with," Di Vittorio added. "He lived a fuller life."
Besides his mother and brother, Lattof is survived by his sister, Elizabeth Lattof Bruemmer, and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will take place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at First Presbyterian Church, 302 N. Dunton Ave. in Arlington Heights.