Walter L. 'Pete' LaVrar; 1927-2013: Navy vet rose in rank with fire department


Walter L. “Pete” LaVrar of Toledo, a retired Toledo fire lieutenant, died of apparent congestive heart failure Wednesday at the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio. He was 85.

His wife of 62 years, Dolores, said he had pneumonia.

Mr. LaVrar joined the Toledo Fire Department in 1952 and rose through the ranks from private to lieutenant, the rank he retired with in 1982. Mrs. LaVrar said he had started at Fire Station No. 1 and later he served at stations 13, 9, and 11.

“He became a firefighter because he cared for other people,” Mrs. LaVrar said. “He was a very good guy. He was helpful to other people. He was very understanding and very, very family oriented.”

Mrs. LaVrar said her husband usually did not share his experience as a firefighter with her, but did so occasionally, especially if a child was injured in a fire.

Born Nov. 18, 1927, in Springdale, Pa., Mr. LaVrar moved to Toledo with his family as a young child, Mrs. LaVrar said.

Mr. LaVrar graduated from the former Macomber High School in 1945 and later that year enlisted in the Navy. He served in California and New York until 1948, when he was honorably discharged.

He returned to Toledo to become a production line worker at Libbey-Owens-Ford Co., where he worked until joining the fire department.

He married Mrs. LaVrar, whose maiden name is Kelley, in April of 1951.

In retirement, Mr. LaVrar enjoyed making and restoring furniture as a hobby, his wife said. He learned the craft from a professional woodcarver, she said.

He also was an avid fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, for which Matthew LaVrar, his grandson, played from 1995 to 2000.

Mr. LaVrar was a longtime member of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, where he was a eucharistic minister.

Surviving are his wife, Dolores; sons Mike and Keith; two grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Newcomer Funeral Home, Southwest Toledo Chapel, 4752 Heatherdowns Blvd., where a last alarm service will follow at 7 p.m. It will be followed with a service by members of American Legion Post 553 and Catholic War Veterans of the United States of America at 7:30 p.m.

A funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 1842 Airport Hwy.

The family suggests tributes to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Honor Flight Northwest Ohio, or the Toledo Firefighters Museum.

Contact Mike Sigov at:, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.