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Harvey Yaslowitz, father of slain St. Petersburg Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz

LAND O'LAKES — Harvey Yaslowitz not only solved people's problems, he relished the chance to try.

He listened, obviously interested, as his children shared frustrations over the years — with playmates, with boyfriends, with their jobs. He always shared his favorite truisms.

Look at the bright side. Don't sweat the small stuff. He seemed to embrace challenges as if they were all variations of the daily crossword puzzle.

That is, until Jan. 24 — the day his son, canine Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz, along with Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger, both St. Petersburg police officers, were fatally shot by a fugitive hiding in an attic.

Now the family, already devastated by Officer Yaslowitz's loss, is coping with another death.

Harvey Yaslowitz, a family role model who also enjoyed serving as its clown, died Tuesday, at St. Joseph's Hospital, the result of a pulmonary embolism, his family said. He was 72.

"He never recovered," said Michelle Harvey, Mr. Yaslowitz's daughter, regarding Jeffrey Yaslowitz's death in January. "There was always a part of him that went with Jeff."

The son of factory workers, Mr. Yaslowitz only knew a close family life dating to his childhood in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. His academic performance at the highly touted Stuyvesant High School paved the way for a full scholarship to the City College of New York. He entered college around the same time his father suffered a fatal heart attack.

The future systems analyst started his career at American Airlines. He met Janice Oppenheimer, an administrative assistant, in a company bowling league. They married in 1967, and Mr. Yaslowitz hired on at IBM.

The family lived in Tarrytown and Putnam Valley, N.Y., before moving to Clearwater in the mid 1980s. Mr. Yaslowitz commuted to IBM in Tampa. Neighbors got used to seeing him jogging around the neighborhood — or chasing his children's cars as they pulled away from his home after visits, with his grandchildren laughing while looking out the back window.

He also enjoyed helping his kids deal with problems they were facing as adults. "Jeff said once, 'You're always talking to Dad about your problems," said Harvey. "I said, 'Because he fixes them.' "

Family members still gathered at Mr. Yaslowitz's house on Saturday nights when they could to watch videos. His favorites included Saturday Night Live reruns, especially those involving the Coneheads or the church lady.

Mr. Yaslowitz retired from IBM in the early 1990s but did consulting work. He and Janice moved to Land O'Lakes around 2005. He enjoyed working as a substitute physical education teacher in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

He was substituting at Forest Lakes Elementary School in Oldsmar on Jan. 24 when a police escort appeared to pick up him and Lorraine Yaslowitz, his daughter-in-law and Jeffrey Yaslowitz's wife, who also is a teacher at the school.

They drove to Bayfront Medical Center knowing only that serious news awaited. Mr. Yaslowitz fainted when he learned his son had died, his daughter said.

Four days later, he was listening to a 21-gun salute and a final radio call, part of the joint funeral for Officers Yaslowitz and Baitinger.

In his own way, Mr. Yaslowitz never stopped trying to reconcile the senseless tragedy that shocked the Tampa Bay area and was followed by the shooting death of St. Petersburg Officer David S. Crawford a month later. He attended a police barbecue in May, ran in a 10K run to honor slain police officers less than two weeks later and watched police canine and SWAT teams train in July.

It triggered grief but also helped him heal, his daughter said.

Yet Harvey, 43, of Atlanta took photos of her brother off the walls before her dad's visit a few months ago because she didn't think he could endure seeing them.

In recent weeks, his family began to suspect he had turned a corner on the grief, Lorraine Yaslowitz said. The many public outpourings of support helped.

"He was so touched and so honored by all the things that happened after Jeffrey's death, it healed him," said Lorraine Yaslowitz, 40.

Mr. Yaslowitz was at her house Saturday night when he complained of shortness of breath. He entered St. Joseph's Hospital that night. He underwent surgery to remove a blood clot, but doctors were unable to stop his hemorrhaging, his family said.

Lorraine Yaslowitz said her three children — Caleb, 12, Haylie, 8 and Calen, 6 — are handling the second family death in seven months with surprising grace.

"Their shock absorbers have increased greatly from the shock of losing their daddy," she said. "I don't think it gets any worse than that. They said Grandpa is happy now because he's with Daddy, and with Jesus."

Researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

.Biography

Harvey Roy Yaslowitz

Born: June 10, 1939.

Died: Aug. 23, 2011.

Survivors: Wife Janice; daughters Michelle Harvey and Stephanie Barnes; brother Samuel Witlow; eight grandchildren.

Service: Visitation 5 to 7 p.m. Friday; David C. Gross Funeral Home, 830 N Belcher Road; service 10 a.m. Saturday; Calvary Baptist Church, 110 N McMullen-Booth Road, both in Clearwater.

Harvey Yaslowitz, father of slain St. Petersburg Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz 08/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 11:39pm]
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