Cover photo for Thomas "Tommy" Laton's Obituary
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1931 Thomas 2023

Thomas "Tommy" Laton

April 23, 1931 — February 21, 2023

Thomas "Tommy" Lee Laton, 91, of Albemarle, passed away Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at St. Andrews Living Center in Concord.
Tommy was born April 23, 1931 in Stanly County, North Carolina to the late Jessie "Pete" Wilson Laton and the late Pearl Dodd Laton.
He was also preceded in death by son, Mark Laton, and siblings, Charles Laton, Rayvon Laton, and Carolyn Laton.
Survivors include wife of 66 years, Barbara "Jean" Ewing Laton of the home; sons, David Laton (Betty Laton) of Albemarle, NC and Gary Laton (Kristi Laton) of Mt. Pleasant, NC; grandchildren, Derrick Laton (Natalie Martino) of Miami, FL, Brian Laton (Jenny Hsu) of Lake Forest, CA, and Pressley Laton (KC Banner) of Blowing Rock, NC; and sister, Linda Hesler of Felicity, OH.
Tommy had an exciting career including his positions as manager of the Sealtest Milk Plant in downtown Albemarle, owner of the Bar-B-Q Shack in East Albemarle, and owner of Hammer Racing, Inc. Some may remember him as "The Candy Apple Man" as many businesses across the county and surrounding areas featured his apples, which could also be found at the Stanly County Fair booth he operated each fall when the Fair came to town. A salesman for Kraft Foods in Charlotte, his role led to a long-time association with the Food Lion grocery chain. When Kraft decided to sell the milk and ice cream part of their business in Winston-Salem, NC, Tommy and three partners formed what was to become one of the most successful dairy manufacturing facilities in America, Dairy Fresh, Inc. Along with the knowledge they had from working at Kraft and the relationship Tommy had with Food Lion, they went on to supply the Food Lion chain with all of their private-label milk and ice cream for nearly two decades. They sold the business in the early '90s to Suizi Foods.
Upon retirement, he enjoyed traveling to drag boat events with his son, Gary. The team won many national events from Augusta, GA to Blue Lake in Kentucky, later transitioning to stock car racing. His team won many races, including 13 wins at Concord Speedway in 1996 and their biggest win at the 1995 Sportsman 100 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He was also co-owner of Concord Speedway near Midland, NC from 1996-2019 with his two sons, David and Gary.
Tommy was a member of Highland Baptist Church in New London. He also served in the U. S. Navy and was stationed in Guam.
Some of Tommy's many enjoyments over the years came from boating, skiing, bowling, golfing, mowing, and collecting classic cars. People who knew him will remember the nitrous oxide jet-ski he rode on Lake Tillery. He will be remembered as one of the most hardworking and compassionate people you could ever meet. His generosity was well-known by many across Stanly County, helping many when times were tough and never mentioning a word to anyone. He was a good man who never forgot where he came from and will be dearly missed by all whose lives he touched. Tommy was an extremely dedicated family man and loved his family with all his heart. Anyone who knew him knew that he thought the sun rose and set over his three grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Community Home Care and Hospice in memory of Tommy.
The family wishes to thank the staff at St. Andrew's Assisted Living Center in Concord who were remarkable in his final days.
Hartsell Funeral Home of Albemarle is serving the Laton family. The family has decided to hold a private service. While the family appreciates your support, they request privacy at this time.


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