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June 12, 1945 – May 25, 2013

James J. Laettner, a retired Buffalo teacher who served as an honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, died Saturday in his home in Tampa, Fla., after a struggle with cancer. He was 67.

Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of McKinley High School, where he trained in plumbing. Drafted into the Army, he served as an honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in 1966 and 1967.

Returning from service, he continued training with Plumbers Local 36, later Local 22, then earned his teaching degree from Buffalo State College.

Mr. Laettner taught plumbing at McKinley High School for 32 years and was honored as Teacher of the Year. He retired in 2002 and moved to Florida.

Known to his friends as “Nipper,” he enjoyed golfing and travel.

Surviving are his wife, the former Sandra Wilke; two sons, Jason and Evan; a stepson, Frederick Ullrich; two brothers, George and Francis; a sister, Irene Zawadski; and his first wife, the former Linda Martin.

A memorial service in Buffalo will be arranged.