Larry suggested I grab some photos off the web, so here’s a selection taken especially for those who haven’t followed his career closely. As always, click to see full sized:
Dear fellow graduates of the class of ’61–so sorry I can’t make the “big five-oh” with you. Unfortunately, my work environment is, in a large part, overseas– Germany this time, then on to Beirut. When not traveling, my wonderful wife Tracey and I along with our cat “Honeybelle” live in Orlando, Florida–look us up if you come to Disney World!
I came back to Richland twice in the last ten years to perform and was so happy to see so many of you at those times–classmates like Jack Glover (one of our most outstanding athletes), who lived down the hill from us. I’m waiting for another invitation to come back to perform again so I can resume these unofficial “reunions” with various class members. It’s quite astounding, what with the passage of time, how things have changed yet how certain things have not changed. We’re still the same people, but the imprint of time has augmented our personalities for the better, I’m sure . . . ha ha.
Over the years I’ve enjoyed running into, for example, our ASB president Dave Warren, first at Yale in the 70’s then about twenty years later in Washington D.C., when he advised me about the financial side of sending my youngest daughter to college. I saw Fred Gustafson twice–both times in Honolulu–as he enjoys his retirement from the U.S. Navy–Fred always wanted to be in the Navy–wow, what focus he had! I guess by now almost everyone has been married, had children. Now grandchildren are coming–we’re playing our roles in the Grand Scheme of life, doing our utmost to create value and pass that philosophy on to succeeding generations.
For me, and this is just for me, I can’t speak for anyone else, I cherish so much the teachers I had at Col-Hi. Mr. Maruca (Spanish!), Fran Rish, of course, Tom Barton (English!), and Mr. Welch, my track coach (his son came to see me play in Chicago recently–so did Dave’s older brother Jim Warren). But perhaps the most important thing that happened to me was in the band room one spring afteroon when I was a fledgling musician using my lunch hour to practice guitar. Mr. Pappas–Gordon Pappas, our band director, came in and shocked me with a statement “Larry, you should be playing in a Symphony.” What with my normal dollop of teenage low-self-esteem, when he said that, I was flabbergasted.
But I am grateful to have heard that–I didn’t really know what I had; I simply knew I loved music and I thought about it all the time. Now, fifty years later, Mr. Pappas’ encouragement has spurred me to compose two concertos, one opera, one ballet, and a violin concerto. My victories in life are also his victories–this is the nature of the importance of humanistic education. These days, my most joyful moments occur when I can encourage a young artist the same way Mr. Pappas encouraged me. Gordon Pappas, thank you so much for caring! You knew I needed to go into a career in music. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Larry – Gordon has responded! See your comments below
Fellow grads, I’m sure you have your own personal experiences about how certain teachers helped you; how your development was nurtured by them to bring out the good qualities we inherently possess. In a way, we share many common experiences; we live each others’ lives. And life is good–we are in a “golden stage” at this point–and, based on extensive experience and hope-filled strength, we are able to contribute our “age-gleaned” wisdom to our families, our communities, our country, and, if I may say so, to the whole world. We’re not getting older, we’re getting better–like that old advertisement said. Happy fiftieth reunion everyone; I’m proud to be from the Northwest, proud to be a native of the Inland Empire, to be a graduate of Richland High School, class of 1961!!! “We love our fair Columbia . . . ” indeed.
Here’s wishing all of you unbridled happiness, abundant good health and long lives–and–hey, see you at the next reunion! Hope next time I can make it!