Today, I gladly became a Presbyterian for about 90 minutes.
|Chad (left), Larry and myself celebrate the good old days.|
I didn't want to miss this.
I first met Larry in 1977. I was still pretty much a rookie sports writer for The Dispatch, and Larry arrived as the newspaper's newest sports editor. I think we got along almost right away. We shared a small 8x10 office as a two-man sports staff, and if our personalities hadn't somehow meshed, it could have been a disaster.
But we were both the same age. We both loved to write. We both loved sports. We both came into our jobs with our own sense of humor — Larry was a little dryer, and a little more pointed than me, and I guess I was a little cornier and less incisive — but it seemed to work.
To this day, even after my own retirement from journalism in 2006 after 30 years in the business, I still regard Larry as the one person who taught me everything — and I do mean everything — I was to learn about newspapering. More, even, than I learned in college.
We worked together as a pretty darn good award-winning sports staff for about six years, until Larry took a promotion as the paper's editor. He spent another 10 years or so in that capacity, guiding the paper through what I consider to be its heyday.
Sometime around 1997 or so, he announced that he was leaving the newspaper business to enter the ministry.
Say what? I certainly never saw that coming, although I probably shouldn't have been surprised. My own father left public school teaching to become a minister, and a former girlfriend of mine also went on to become a minister. And now this.
I'm not saying I drove these people into the ministry (indeed, years later, yet another Dispatch colleague of mine also went into the ministry), but the odds... the odds... so I can't quite deny it, either.
At any rate, after seminary, Larry and his wife, Martha, went on to have a very successful tenure at Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church in Blowing Rock for about nine years before coming to West End, where it was clearly evident they were both loved and appreciated.
I can only imagine the number of people he's reached, guided, gave solace and inspiration to over the years. So while he's no longer the pastor of a church, I'm sure his ministry will continue in his well-deserved retirement.
I hope he finds a way to write about it.