John R. Latham Sr., U.S. Army parachute tester, founder of East Coast Cooling Towers, dies

John Latham built and repaired cooling towers.

John R. Latham Sr., an HVAC technician and founder of East Coast Cooling Towers, died Jan. 28 in his sleep at his Halethorpe home. He was 88.

John Reginald Latham Sr., son of Reginald Latham, a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad worker, and his wife, Sarah Latham, was born in Baltimore and raised on American Avenue in Halethorpe. He attended Baltimore County public schools.


Mr. Latham was working for Baltimore Aircoil Co. when he joined the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in 1951. A parachute tester, he remained in the Army until being discharged in 1954.

He returned to Baltimore Aircoil Co. and traveled to China, Japan and Singapore building and repairing cooling towers. It was during stopovers in Hawaii that Mr. Latham fell in love, family members said, with Maui, to which he made frequent trips for the remainder of his life with family and grandchildren.


Mr. Latham and his wife, the former Annette Arnold, whom he married in 1956, originally lived on Research Avenue in Halethorpe, but moved in 1978 to 2nd Avenue in Halethorpe because their previous home was in a flood plain.

In 1985, he established East Coast Cooling Towers in the backyard of his Halethorpe home to service cooling towers on the East Coast. The business closed in 2010.

“He was a self-made man who believed in hard work,” said a daughter, Jennifer Dugan of Ellicott City.

Mr. Latham and his wife enjoyed spending time at a second home they built on the Chester River near Grasonville. He was also a fan of Frank Sinatra and Bud Light, his daughter said.

“He died on his 64th wedding anniversary,” Ms. Dugan said.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Clement Roman Catholic Church, 2700 Washington Ave., Halethorpe.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Latham is survived by two sons, John R. Latham Jr. of Halethorpe and Joseph Latham of Grasonville; another daughter, Joanne Latham of Halethorpe; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.