My Cousin Larry

by Jim Gillespie
(Jesup, Iowa)

I can hear the angels laughing as they met Larry at the gates of heaven. He said to them,

“Did you hear about the two gold fish in a tank? They were both swimming around and after awhile and one said to the other, 'How do you drive this thing?'"

He had the greatest sense of humor of any human I ever knew.

One of Larry’s greatest strengths was his unconditional love for his family. Be it Betty, his daughters, brothers and sisters, mom and dad, or cousins and uncles. He loved being around them for a day of fishing, a night of playing cards, or an afternoon to tell stories.

He did not want anyone to go unnoticed or unrecognized, making sure that all in attendance was happy and taken care of.

One of the last times we spoke, he talked about Randy, going fishing down at Red Rock and you could feel how he had enjoyed all of the times he had fished with the family.

Judy was telling me about the Sunday before he passed away; how Darlene, her and Larry had such a wonderful conversation. For him, one of the day's highlights was watching the movie ‘Oh Brother Where Art Though’, again. He and I would sit and give quotes from the movie to each other. One he particularly liked was when Delmer said “Them sirens turned Pete into a Horny Toad.”

Larry always gave me so much of his time and energy. When mom passed away I was traveling and when I got home he helped me make the arrangements; clean the house inside and out, and handle a tough time in my life. Another time was when I was having plumbing trouble with my house Larry spent an entire weekend helping me redo my septic line.

Another great story was when I took a car down to Texas for a friend. He and I drove 2000 miles in 40 hours. We were outside of Wichita Fall and I was driving down the toll way at 2:00 in the morning. I hit a raccoon about the size of a baby calf. Larry was sleeping in the passenger seat and he sat up and said “Did you hit the baby?” Man, we laughed about that.

As kind and fun as Larry was, he also was one of the most competitive people I have ever been around. When I was young Les and Linda had a ping pong table in the basement. Larry and I would play games down there for hours and, every game was a big deal. It drove me crazy because I could not beat him if my life depended on it.

It doesn’t matter what you were doing. If you were fishing, you were competing to catch the smallest, largest, most, and most kinds of fish. It was so much fun.

He loved going to Kansas City and fishing with Johnny, as well as fishing with the family in Canada and going down to Arkansas to fish there.

One of the most enjoyable times I ever had was watching Larry compete.

One day I went out to lunch with Jerry and Larry at a place that had a pool table. They played doubles against a couple guys for a dollar and beat them five times in a row. Each shot was like they were playing best shot golf against Judy for a quarter a hole down in Kansas City. They would stand over the table and talk about angles for the next shot. It drove those guys crazy.

Larry took great pride in graduating from Dinsdale. Recently Marie and I went down to see Larry and Betty, and she took Larry’s senior year book with us. Larry was very prominent in it and had great success in baseball and basketball as well as other activities. Larry found much happiness going over every page.

When Marie called me that terrible morning I became very selfish. I cried and I thought God had taken a person I considered a brother and a friend. Then I thought again, and said to myself, maybe God needs a brother and a friend as well.

If you met Larry one time you were his friend for life. He cared deeply for all who he met. To Betty and her family, Deanna, Marie, Jerry, Judy, Darlene, Randy and all of his grand kids, be comforted with the warmth of all of the wonderful memories we have of Larry. I wish the Angels peace as Larry bring his happiness and laughter to them.

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