Down the Lane: Remembering a life well lived

Published 7:42 am Thursday, January 12, 2017

By Sue Staton

Sun columnist

There are people who, unbeknownst to them, leave lasting impressions on you and others.

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Usually these people are famous or very well known. When they die, you see what an impact they had on people by their reactions.

There are a few ordinary people who lived ordinary lives yet left such an impact by the way they lived. I want to pay a tribute to Larry Joe Gabbard who went to meet his Lord last week.

I have known Larry Joe since he was in the first grade. I remember him as a cute little kid with a smile on his face most of the time and nicknamed “Ike.” I think this nickname came about because Eisenhower was president at the time he was born.

It was Larry Joe who informed me on the school bus one day that I had someone who wanted to be my boyfriend. At the time, I found it funny but that was the beginning of a long friendship with Larry Joe. His statement became true. Up until that time, I only knew him as Carolyn and Mike’s little brother.

I spent many years as close friends with Larry Joe and his wife, Peggy, when I lived at Kiddville. We had all grown up in the same neighborhood, and my husband at the time and Larry Joe had been close all their life. We enjoyed many meals and hours and hours of card playing together. We camped together and worked together. I was with Larry and Peggy when I learned how to water ski.

I remember sledding on cold, wintry nights on roads too dangerous for most people to drive, but made for an adventurous winter night of fun for us. When you spend all that time together, you learn about people.

I learned Larry Joe was a man who lived his faith. Larry Joe could have made a “pity me” choice many years ago when he was the victim of a debilitating aneurysm that left him with mobility problems for the rest of his life.

If Larry Joe ever showed any change in his demeanor after the episode, I never heard of it. Though I am sure he needed encouragement at times, it was not something he seemed to seek for himself since he always appeared to be the encourager and the person who found the good in others.

Larry Joe relished humor and liked to laugh, but it was plain to see that he enjoyed making others laugh more. His wit was enjoyed by all who knew him. That was one of the things everyone mentioned when they first learned of his untimely death.  That was not the only thing that followed him since every person I spoke to mentioned what a good man he was.

Larry Joe knew the value of friendship and always did his part to preserve it. He has showed true friendships are real.

One only had to look around the parking lot at the funeral home to see how many people Larry Joe had touched during his lifetime. No one seemed to mind if they had to stand in line for nearly two hours to pay their respects to this special but ordinary man that could relate to the hundreds there.

Though it has been 30 years since I lived in Kiddville, I often heard from others that Larry Joe asked about me and my family. I always got a Christmas card from him and Peggy. When I would see them, he was always the same nice person I remembered. His family is going to miss him, but so will his friends.

I know he considered himself just someone ordinary but he definitely was not. It was another aneurysm that finally claimed his life, but I think God gave him his extra years for him to show people that life can be good even in adversity.

Thank you for a life well lived, Larry Joe!