Annette O. Labanc (nee Ortega), 82. Beloved wife of the late Thomas. Dear mother of Michael (Ellen), Robert (Rebecca), David (Brandi), and the late Joan. Beloved grandmother of Gary and Ryan. U.S. Navy veteran.
Annette Ortega LaBanc of Strongsville passed away peacefully at the Thomas P. Perciak Family Residential Hospice Facility on April 3, 2021. Annette was originally from San Luis, Colo. She was the second oldest of eight children born to Prax and Daisy Ortega.
She was a sister to Delfino, Linda, Praxie, John, Anthony, Sandra and Daisy.
She enlisted in the US Navy and served from 1957 to 1961. During her time in the Navy, she met the love of her life, Tom LaBanc [whom she called “My Tiger”] at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. They fell in love and Annette moved to Cleveland after her honorable discharge from the Navy. She rented a room from Tom’s older brother and his wife, while Tom & Annette courted. They got married in San Luis on September 30, 1962, and settled in Cleveland.
Tom and Annette had an old-fashioned love that grew throughout the years of their marriage. They were best friends and raised four children, Joan, Michael, Robert, and David. To her children, Annette was a mother, teacher, and disciplinarian—not worried about being their friend, but instilling strong values and a deep faith. As the children matured they became friends with their mom and understood all of her sacrifices and the lessons she taught them.
Among the lessons Annette taught, through the example of her life, were the importance of happiness and caring for others. She was a devoted member of St. Joseph Parish in Strongsville where she attended daily mass. She served her community as an intergenerational youth mentor in Parma and as a Community Emergency Response Team volunteer in Strongsville. She was a member of American Legion Post 91 in Berea and the Legion of Mary at St. Joe’s. Annette was a frequent visitor to the Strongsville Senior Center where she was known for her fun personality—including the use of her toy fart gun during Silver Sneaker exercise classes, her interesting hats, ever-present smile, and her love of male Hershey bars (those containing nuts!).
Annette’s role modeling and personality also influenced several students at Baldwin Wallace University during her 27 years as a lunch lady in the student union. She was known for her generous scoops of food when she served on the line, and her kind words when she worked as a cashier. She was also known for her love of the Arts. She would happily attend a student’s recital if invited, or a production of the Conservatory or Theatre Department if available.
Annette will be missed as a mother, grandmother, sister, friend, volunteer, role model, and prayer warrior. She lived her life with exuberance and brought joy to everyone she met. Her children were blessed by her love and take great comfort in knowing she is now with her Lord and her beloved Tiger.
A memorial mass will be held Friday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Parish in Alamosa and graveside service immediately following at the Alamosa Cemetery.