Goodbye dear friend
This old lady knows better. When someone you care about is ill, and you don’t call, send a card or visit him or her; you should be ashamed of yourself when news comes about this person’s death. And so I am.
My only excuse is that my dear friend, Larry, was only in his 50s. For many years he’d been ill with several ailments. I thought his latest illness was just a continuation of one of those. I was wrong, very, very wrong.
I first met Larry when I’d moved from California to Carson City and was looking for work. A nice lady from a temporary agency called to tell me about a job that had been advertised in the Sunday newspaper. Just try finding a Sunday paper on Monday, folks, it just doesn’t work. Anyway, I’d gone into the Horseshoe Casino looking for a paper, and glancing across Carson Street saw a sign that said “Reno Gazette-Journal” in huge letters over the top of a store.
“Of course,” I thought, they’ll have yesterday’s paper. I went inside to find an empty front desk but heard voices in the back. I headed down a hallway until I found the room where the conversation was being held. It didn’t take long to find out that they were in the process of opening up a branch office of the paper, didn’t have Sunday’s edition, and were looking for a clerical worker. For some reason, this young editor took a liking to me, perhaps because we were both from Pennsylvania? However, after a resume check, and six in-depth follow-up interviews with executives in Reno, they hired this then 71 year old. I was a happy camper.
It was then that I met Larry, the head of circulation in that area. This couldn’t have been an easy job. It was during the time when newspapers were the major source for news, not the Internet and computers. It turned out to be a busy office that included an editor, three reporters, a photographer, two salespeople and little old me up front. And of course, deadlines. You’ll understand then, that when people didn’t get their paper on time, they’d get very upset. Things like big snowstorms, flooding during some of those rainy days we had, break down of delivery personnel, and all of the other things that can go wrong didn’t really matter when a customer wanted the paper. I remember once, when the weather was such that he couldn’t get through from his home in Minden, he drove clear around to Yerington, into Silver Springs and then to Carson City just to get to work and do his job. Larry handled all of this daily stress with a grace and gentleness unlike anything I’ve ever seen
I remember so many things about Larry, especially his kindnesses to even the nastiest of subscribers or others. He mentioned somebody’s name one day, when talking about something that had happened at home. I didn’t recognize the name and asked him who it was? It turned out that a family from nearby where he and his family lived, had come on hard times and were homeless. Larry and his wife Cindy simply took them in. He didn’t seem to understand why I was so surprised; it was what you did when somebody needed help.
Larry and I often went to lunch together at the nearby Nugget Casino’s coffee shop, or a local pizza parlor, and never once did he miss saying grace. Larry was a very religious man; but not once did he try to convert me from my Presbyterian faith. After my retirement from my job, Larry continued to take me to lunch on my birthday; however, the last time was about three years ago when he also invited my son Doug to come along.
I wish I could tell you of Larry’s many other fine attributes. I’ll always cherish memories of his gentle, kind and giving ways. Also, how Larry took care of his son who’d been in a horrendous automobile accident and would never be physically normal again. Most of all, when his own illnesses hit him so hard you could see him actually freeze in pain, Larry went on with his job and never, ever complained. He was such an example to me, and to everybody who knew him of what a true Christian person should be.
I’ll miss you dear friend. May God bless and keep you in his loving arms.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.