The Eulogy of Larry Wills -- Eulogy for a Friend -- Eulogy by a Friend
Good morning. I’m Curt McGrew. Thank you all for being here today as we say a final farewell to Larry...
I’ve observed, over the years, that there are many people in this world who live their lives without ever having a best friend. They have friends, of course, and acquaintances and family, but no BEST friend. I’ve been the most fortunate of men because I did. It was Larry Wilson.
I met Larry over 45 years ago. Larry’s wife and mine were on a women’s bowling league and our daughters went to school together, so we, naturally, met. And that relationship grew and saw us through four decades of joys and sorrows – good times and bad. Larry was always there when I needed him and I like to think I was there for him, too.
Larry and I loved one another like brothers – no, probably MORE than brothers. Brothers sometimes butt heads and their egos get in the way. It was never that way with Larry and me. He’d do anything for me and I would never withhold anything from him. We enjoyed the same things. We enjoyed going the same places… We even sang together from time to time. Larry loved to sing and I can harmonize, so it wasn’t uncommon for us to burst into song at a bar or party… In fact, one of Larry’s greatest joys was going to a party and be asked to sing. Everyone knew he had a great bass voice and that he wasn’t shy so he’d do it if asked. I remember one party we were at where he was asked to sing and he coerced a few of the women at the party to join him. He called them the Larryettes. When he was younger he sang at some of the venues here in Newport Beach and in Carona Del Mar. He loved performing.
Larry was just a great guy. He probably had the best sense of humor of anyone I’ve ever met. He loved going to a bar and sit down next to a stranger and strike up a conversation. In an incredibly short time he’d have that stranger laughing and joking with him like they were long lost friends.
Larry had stories – he had at least one for every occasion and he had a way of telling even the most common of stories and make them funny… You could tell a good one was coming when he’d say, “Let me tell you my thought for the day.”
Larry’s philosophy of life was K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). We were in Vegas a number of years ago and I remember his advice as we stood at the poker machines. He said, “McGraw – just play a quarter at a time and we can drink free beer all day.” So we did. It was a great day.
Larry loved his beer. I was over at his place once and commented on an old, rusty bike he had. “Larry, where did you get that nasty old thing?” He said, I’ll have you know that I have over $500 in that bike.” “Really?” I said, incredulously. “How is that possible?” He said, “I take it with me to the mainland every day to get a beer. The ferry charges me, fifty cents each way.”
Larry was born in Tennessee. One of the youngest of ten kids. He had a couple of siblings who were old enough to be his parents. His dad died young, so they probably stepped into that role. Even though he moved all the way across the country, he never forgot his family. He talked about them all the time and he loved going back for family reunions. Most of the family is gone now. His sister, Jean, and two of his brothers, Whip and Dwight, are still living. He so loved them…
Larry dearly loved his family – his girls, Michelle and Sherry. He adored both of you. He talked often about you and what you were doing… The days on which each of you were born were the happiest days of his life… Michelle and Sherry gave him six grandkids – Jack, Justin, Joey, Jessica and Steven and now, one little great granddaughter, Josie.
You grandkids – you had a wonderful grandfather. I hope you will treasure the memories you have of times with him. I hope that you will take some of the qualities you saw in him – his sense of humor, his kindness, his friendliness to everyone – and develop those things in your own lives. If you do you will truly be blessed and your dear grandfather will live on – in you.
Larry hadn’t golfed in a number of years, but earlier he was an avid golfer and, because of his charismatic personality – and living here in Newport Beach, of course – he had the opportunity to meet some of the greats. He once met Jack Nicholas and __________ and a number of other famous people. I’m pretty sure they fell in love with him just like everyone else…
Larry was a vet. He served in the Navy back in the 70’s. We once went to ___________ to see the ship he served on. It’s been decommissioned now but it brought back a lot of powerful memories for him. He enjoyed the Navy. He was glad he didn’t serve during war, though… In many ways, the Navy made him the man he was…
Larry worked for Metropolitan Water in L.A. for many year… Most of those years he was a field inspector but eventually he became the head of the maintenance division… When he was 52 he left there and became a building contractor – another thing we had in common.
It was hard to see Larry aging and getting weaker in these past few years, but it was obvious that he was. When he’d come back from seeing a doctor, he’d always report that “I dodged another bullet today, McGrew.” A year ago he didn’t say that. I asked him how bad. He said, “the worse.” But then he told me that he had had a great life and that he had no regrets about anything. Then he said something that was comforting and also showed the depth of his spirit. He said, “If you fear death you haven’t lived well. I’ve lived well…”
I’m going to miss my friend like anything. There will never be another Larry.
Larry – thank you for being the best friend a man could ever have. We lived our lives together and, for that, I’ve been blessed. No one who has known you will ever forget you. You were one of a kind – a man of grace and joy and a man who loved all of us. Goodbye, my friend. Goodbye…
Eulogy for a friend... Eulogy by a best friend
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