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Joseph Anthony Daniel Lastelic was born October 5, 1929 at the family home in Kansas City, Kansas. He was the second of seven children born to Anton and Catherine Lastelic. He died on Sunday, August 27, 2023, at the age of 93.
He is survived by his children, Cecile Phillips (Peter), Stephen Lastelic (Luisa Torres) and Elizabeth Copeland, and his three granddaughters, Carroll Phillips, Elizabeth Phillips and Victoria Lastelic. He is also survived by a sister, Kathryn Zunick, and a brother, Robert Lastelic, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Carroll Whiteside Lastelic, his parents, three sisters, Delores Lastelic, Frances Lauber and Helen Sherman, and a brother, John Lastelic.
He was a graduate of Holy Family Parochial School in 1943 and attended Bishop Ward Catholic High School, graduating in 1947. While in high school he was editor of The Outburst, the school newspaper, as well as a member of the National Honor Society and of the debate team. As a high school journalist, he won a Quill and Scroll Society scholarship to attend college. He attended Marquette University for a semester, working part-time to afford school, and returned home to attend Rockhurst College for two years, while also working part-time at Hallmark Cards and later in the surgical department of Menorah Hospital. In 1950, he used the remainder of his scholarship to allow him to attend the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas (KU) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1952. While at KU, he served as a reporter and assistant managing editor for The University Daily Kansan newspaper and had the privilege of covering the KU national championship victory in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 1952.
Mr. Lastelic developed a work ethic at an early age and had numerous part-time jobs while attending school. Starting in the summer of 1943 and continuing through the spring of 1952, before his graduation from college, he worked in a variety of jobs, including soda fountain boy, copyboy, file clerk, railroad car laborer, surgical orderly, men’s furnishings salesman, botanical specimens’ clerk, editor of The Armour Star magazine, clerk in an employment office, mattress company laborer, and chemistry lab technician.
Following graduation from college, he went to work for The Kansas City Star and Times in the Kansas City, Kansas office, covering local government political events, and in 1957 was transferred to the main office in Kansas City, Missouri. In his new post, he covered the downtown beat for local politics and special assignments. In 1960, he took a leave of absence from The Star to serve as Press Secretary to Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson during the 1960 Kennedy/Johnson Presidential campaign. At the conclusion of the campaign, he fulfilled his promise to return to The Star and in 1961 was assigned to the Washington, D.C. Bureau as a correspondent covering Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court and federal agencies on issues of political interest to Kansas and Missouri. He was eventually promoted to Washington Bureau Chief. While covering members of Congress from Kansas and Missouri, he met his future wife, Carroll LaBorde Whiteside, originally from Columbia, SC, who was working as an aide to a Missouri Congressman, and they subsequently married on December 30, 1967.
While working as a Washington D.C. newspaperman, Mr. Lastelic also covered the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976 and those presidential campaigns. He also covered President Nixon’s Moscow Summit, President Ford’s summit with Brezhnev in Vladivostok and his trips to South Korea and Japan, and President Carter’s Economic Summit in London. He left The Star on December 31, 1980 to work for the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, D.C. from 1981 to 1998 as a media relations representative.
Mr. Lastelic served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 30 years and retired as a Colonel from the Medical Service Corps. He was also a member of the Reserve Officers Association. His military career began in 1948 when he was encouraged to join the National Guard. He went to basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri and later graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the U.S. Army Health Care Administration in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 1963 and rose through the ranks over the years to become Colonel/Executive Officer of the 2290th U.S. Army Hospital Command in Rockville, Maryland and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf and the Army Commendation Medal.
In 1974, Mr. Lastelic was elected to membership in the Gridiron Club, the oldest and among the most prestigious journalistic organizations in Washington D.C. and served as its sheriff for more than 40 years, coordinating with the White House advance staff and the U.S. Secret Service on security arrangements for the many U.S. Presidential visits to the annual Spring Dinner of the club. He was also a member of the National Press Club for forty years.
He was an avid volunteer and leader in his community. He served as president of the Wyandotte County Historical Society in Kansas City, Kansas. He was active in the St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School community in Alexandria, VA, beginning in 1975. He was a parent, a grandparent, served on various fundraising committees, and was president of the Fathers’ Club for three years.
Music also was an avocation for Mr. Lastelic his whole life, starting as a boy in elementary school when he was the soloist at Holy Family Church singing Latin Propers for Sunday Mass. At age 14, he began playing the pipe organ for 10:00 a.m. Sunday Masses and continued doing so for the next 15 years. He was also a member of the Rockhurst College Glee Club for two years, the Men and Boys Choir at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. for four years, the Catholic Community Choir at Ft. Myer, VA from 1999 to 2010, and the St. Thomas More Cathedral Choir from 2011 to 2020. He also played the piano and organ in his home daily.
Above all, he was dedicated to his family, always putting them first. After the untimely death of his wife Carroll, he raised his three children as a single father. He cooked dinner every night, helped with homework, drove them to school and social events, and attended their athletic competitions. He instilled in them his values of faith, loyalty, education, manners, and kindness. He also was "nanny" for his older grandchildren as newborns and toddlers, giving them the same love and values. He truly sacrificed for his children and grandchildren, for which they are ever thankful.
The family will receive friends at the Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home, 1500 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22302 on Friday, September 8, 2023, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The funeral service will take place on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew of the Apostle, 1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 at 10:00 a.m. Reception to follow at Belle Haven Country Club, 6023 Fort Hunt Rd, Alexandria, VA 22307. Interment in Arlington National Cemetery will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the following organizations. Please indicate “In memory of Joe Lastelic.”
Gift Processing Department
PO Box 928
Lawrence, KS 66044-0928
(Donations will create a student support fund)
The Gridiron Club and Foundation
529 14th St. NW
976 National Press Building
Washington, DC 20045
(Donations will support scholarships for journalism students)
Holy Family Church
274 Orchard St.
Kansas City, KS 66101