Thursday, September 28, 2006
A good friend of mine has died. It happened on Monday and was sudden, which makes it all the more difficult for me to process - it seems so unreal. It had been about a month since I last talked to him, and the last time we saw him was when we had him over for dinner back in July. Larry didn't have any family here. No wife, no kids. So there hasn't been a funeral or memorial. He was cremated and the ashes were sent out of state. I think this makes it more difficult to come to terms with the loss. There is no sense of closure. He was here, and now he is just... gone. I'm hoping that writing this will help in some small way. And maybe later there will be some sort of remembrance. I hope so. He had a lot of friends here and we are all probably feeling this way.
I met Larry in 1988 when I was a graduate teaching assistant. Larry was in charge of the "quiz system" that administered the quizzes for the large sophomore physics classes that all the engineers have to take. I was assigned to work in the quiz bank under Larry's direction and we became friends. Back then, Larry's office sort of doubled as a hangout for a few of the older professors. They were interesting guys, and funny. Everything was laid back and casual, and we all had a great time getting the work done. Larry was as cool a boss as I've ever had. As long as you got your work done correctly and on time, he didn't care how or when you did it. Even though it was not part of his job, he was always willing to help students who were struggling. Larry really knew his physics and had a talent for explaining it to others. When he finally got to teach one of those classes he got the highest reviews in the department. He retired last year.
Before he went back to school (he dropped out of Tech and came back later to finish his degree), Larry was a whitewater rafting guide. He was also an expert canoe paddler and took me on many outings. He taught me everything I know about paddling and how to be safe on a river. He made whitewater canoeing so easy. All I had to do was follow his instructions (I was in the front, Larry in the back of the canoe) and everything always went according to plan. Even big, scary rapids and dropoff waterfalls were no problem to navigate with Larry as the guide. We paddled the Chattooga, the Nantahala (that was some COLD water), and the 'Hootch. I also went on a three day canoe camping trip through the Okeefenokee Swamp with Larry and some of his friends two times -- once in the spring, and once in the fall. Those times on the water are a big part of how I will remember him. Good times... The pictures I've posted are from the swamp trip in the Fall of 1992.