Clarence John Lontos
March 28, 1930 – April 25, 2021
Clarence John Lontos (“John”) of Lantana, FL, formerly of Newton, NJ, passed away peacefully Sunday morning, April 25, 2021, with his family by his side.
Born in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, in 1930, John accomplished much and positively influenced countless students, friends and family over his 91 years.
His early years were not easy, however, having been born and raised during the Great Depression and losing his father when he was four. John, his two brothers and four sisters were raised by their mother, Caroline, and as children sought out whatever odd jobs were available. Despite having very little, he frequently reminisced of adventures with his best friend, Eddy McCarthy…riding the subway barefoot and in bathing suits to swim at Coney Island, dodging the occasional car while playing stick ball in the street, and sitting on apartment steps just talking. He landed his first official job at age 16 as a messenger boy on Wall Street, but this was short-lived as he was let go for not having appropriate attire (most of his clothes were hand-me-downs).
Seeking something better, John joined the Army three days after turning 17 and began a decorated career, first as a non-commissioned officer and eventually retiring as a Major after 21 years. After basic training, John was assigned to the elite Army Security Agency (ASA) whose motto was "In God We Trust, All Others We Monitor." He spent much of his ASA career as a Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) officer in post-WWII Berlin Germany, Austria, and Italy, including assignments with the CIA, NSA and Counter-Intelligence Corp, and command assignments at Vint Hill Farms Station in Warrenton, VA, Arlington Hall Station in Arlington, VA, and Fort Devens, MA. In his later years, he would share stories of sitting in on the Nuremberg trials, visiting Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest not long after the end of WWII, running agents in East Berlin, interrogating East German defectors, and skiing the Alps in the winter uniforms of former German soldiers. His time in Germany also yielded special family memories such as learning to ski, Fasching festivals, and camping (with a ridiculously large and complex tent).
Being fluent in German, he began a second impactful career as a German Teacher when he was hired by Newton High School (NJ) in 1967 to implement a German Language program. Over his 24 years at Newton H.S. he chaired the Foreign Language department, led the Newton Teachers Association, performed as a Student Council Advisor, received the NJ Governor’s Teacher of the Year Award, was named Newton H.S. Teacher of the Year, was named NJ State Student Council Advisor of the Year, received a Master’s Degree in Education, and was inducted into the Newton H.S. Hall of Fame. Former students and those that knew him from Newton H.S. will remember his role in events such as donkey basketball and Jell-O wrestling, school dances, various school fundraisers, and numerous student-led pranks (such as an ill-advised effort to tie a goat to the flagpole at his home).
Far more important to him than any praise or recognition was his opportunity to mentor, guide, counsel, support, assist and inspire students, friends, and family in any way he could, having himself grown up without a father.
Following his second retirement he traveled frequently with his wife Frieda, spent time with relatives at Deer Lake in Sandyston, NJ, visited his children and grandchildren often, and helped raise his grandson. Known by friends and family for his wisdom and wit, endless and terrible bad dad jokes, boundless generosity (who brings four pies to a Thanksgiving dinner?), crazy Newton gourmet club social events (something about toga parties and “RUMTOPF” punch), large family picnics and associated (painful) group picture taking, using chocolate as currency with healthcare and service providers, being one of the first (maybe only) to ride a lawn tractor from Fredon to Newton to get a part replaced, helping young students with gas money or haircuts, hating onions and mayo, lupper, going to the movies, high moral standards, and above all, kindness and sharing his happiness with all who met him.
He was preceded in death by beloved wife, Frieda, brothers, Andrew and Joe, sisters, Helen, Sally, Lola and Catherine, daughter, Diane, and parents, Kleanthis and Caroline.
John will be lovingly missed and appreciated by his daughter, Laura and husband, Art Morrow, of Fredon NJ; son, Robert and daughter-in-law, Cindy Lontos, of Sarasota, FL, and their extended family; son, John and daughter-in-law, Heather Lontos, of Manassas, VA; granddaughters, Rachel and Sophie; grandson, Christopher Walker, currently in the US Navy and stationed at Whidbey Island, WA; many nieces and nephews and their extended families; and the many colleagues, friends, and former students whose lives he impacted in a positive way.
Services are private and under the direction of the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High Street, Newton, NJ.
Memorial donations may be made to The Salvation Army, 4 Gary Road, Union, NJ 07083.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Clarence John Lontos
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May 16, 2021
John was my a best friend ‘s Uncle ,met him in late Fifties.Had great times together,he shared his experiences with us .
RIP Brother .Sincerely W R Bailey,Veteran US Army
May 15, 2021
I’m very fortunate to have spent quality time with my dad, aka John, aka Herr Lontos, during his last couple of months. There is simply not enough time or space for all that can be said, so I thought I'd share some memories and other things that I'll be forever grateful to him for:
Appreciation for all things German, bad dad jokes, teaching me how to tie a tie, monty python, yardwork, the joy of a riding mower, loyalty and commitment, siesta key, tiramisu, road trips, deer lake, his always having a smile at 5:30 in the morning when we were kids, dairy queen, grandma lontos' stew, convincing me that chipped beef on toast was a good thing, diners, respect for others, allowing me to fail (many times), his service to the country and to Newton High School, indirectly getting me out of numerous traffic tickets, the yellow station wagon, always being there when I needed him, firm fairness, and generosity. And in addition to my brother Bob and sisters Laura and Diane, I'm thankful for the many "NHS brothers" that I came to know through his mentorship of others...names like Eitner, Donafrio, Coleman, Guether, Decker, Miller, Lewis, Blue, Osbourn, and others. I'll miss and appreciate you dad.
May 9, 2021
The news of John's death greatly saddened us.
We will not forget his smile and great sense of humor. He made every moment fun and enjoyable. He was always trying to help the people around him and put a smile on their lips.
What an amazing person! We are grateful to have had the privilege of knowing him.
We are keeping his loved ones in our prayers.
With our deepest condolences,
Edelgard and Heike with family
May 6, 2021
Dad you are immensely missed more than words can speak. Your quick wit, and high morality and kindness has helped guide my life through tough times and good times. We laughed alot together, talked endlessly and enjoyed life. Miss you pop.
Jeff and Debbie (Polc)Heller
May 5, 2021
Our sympathy to the Lontos family. My husband had Mr. Lontos as a German teacher. I was very fortunate to have him as a 1974 Class Advisor for four years. He always gave advise in a respectful way, even though I know we probably accounted for some of his gray hairs.
He was always a generous and kind person,. He will always hold a special place in our lives and hearts
Jeff and Debbie (Polc) Heller
May 3, 2021
I was a student in the very first German class that Mr. Lontos taught in 1967 and continued through me senior year in 1970. Although not the best of students, I still remember a fair bit of the German taught to me in those years. I know that I and my friends had more than a student -teacher relationship, but thought of Mr. Lontos as an advisor and as a true friend. You know the quality of a good teacher when you feel that that individual as left a true mark on your learning years. I feel that Mr. Lontos was truly a very positive influence on me and only hope the best for his remaining family.
May 2, 2021
I will always be grateful that I not only had Mr. Lontos as my German teacher but was also fortunate enough to have him for homeroom for 4 years. As my homeroom teacher, he was a selfless individual who created a warm environment and treated us like his own sons/daughters. He was always present to offer guidance and provide encouragement and support while being kind-hearted and setting a proper example to follow. He was someone who I was always comfortable in asking sound advice from and who would repeatedly make himself available should I need a different perspective. To me, he was like a 2nd father.
In his later years, when he returned to visit NJ from Florida on numerous occasions, he always made it a point to meet with me personally and 'catch-up' so we would share what was going on in each other’s lives. This was something that I always looked forward to and appreciated. He was someone that I considered fortunate to have had as a teacher, counselor, nurturer, mentor, but most importantly … a friend.
I will miss Herr Lontos more than words can express but am thankful that I had him as a guiding influence throughout the course of my youth. A life well lived! “A good education can change anyone, but a good teacher can change Everything!”
May 1, 2021
Never had the privilege of having Mr Lontos as a teacher while in school but I had a class in the room where he taught the period before my class, he always had a smile, always would stop and chat for a minute or two, even now like 44 years later the thoughts of him brings a smile. May he R.I.P. and nay his family and friends find comfort and peace in GODS warm embrace
April 30, 2021
You are forever loved,Dad,and never ever forgotten.Always with us at every holiday and.birthday. You have been the BEST father in law too.
April 29, 2021
He was truly one of the blessings of my young life to have been his student . His humor and his zest for life were contagious. The words written about him are very impactful when I realize that I was able to spend such quality time with a true inspiration.