Life Story / Obituary
A hardworking man of honor, courage, and selfless generosity, Larry Brown will be remembered for his willingness to help others at the drop of a hat in ways both great and small. He could come across as stern and opinionated, but he was also a very passionate man when it came to the things he believed in. Larry was a loving husband and father who raised his children to be disciplined and hardworking, too. Life was not without times of trial, but he was the sort of person who just made the best of it for as long as he was able. Intelligent, inventive, and willing to think outside the box, Larry was resourceful, too. Although he will be deeply missed, he leaves behind memories that will be forever remembered by his family and friends.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, which drove the unemployment rate to over 25 percent, and things only went from bad to worse when a drought covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years. Despite the challenges around them, Arthur and Edna (Spencer) Brown were filled with great anticipation as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the calendar turned to welcome in the new year in 1936. They big day finally arrived on January 11th when the baby boy they named Lawrence E. drew his first breath. Born and raised in Ionia, Michigan, he was the youngest of four children in his family, joined by his siblings, Edith, Dorothy, and Bea.
In many ways, Larry was a young boy of his generation. He attended local schools including Ionia High School where he played tennis, played the saxophone in the band, and was in both the glee club and the choir. In addition, he was on the yearbook staff. Larry’s description in the yearbook referred to repartee, which describes a person who is quick and witty in their responses. This comes as no surprise to anyone who knew Larry.
New and exciting changes were in store for Larry as a young man. A couple of years after graduating, he enlisted in the Navy. Larry’s time in the service spanned from 1955 through 1959 in addition to spending a couple of years beyond that in the reserves. Much of Larry’s time in the military was spent working on radios and electronics on aircraft in Miramar, California, and then in Hawaii. He was proud of his service and was honorably discharged, however, he suffered with hearing damage incurred while in the service.
With his active military duties fulfilled, Larry returned home and found work at a manufacturing plant in Ionia. It was there that he met Carole Rae Hazewinkle Haag who was a little younger than he was. Her father had a service station where Larry worked nights for a time. Larry and Carole began dating, and on August 19, 1961, they were married.
After a honeymoon at Niagara Falls, the newlyweds returned to Western Michigan where they were blessed with three children, Robin, Scott, and Craig. Over the years they moved a lot including to homes in Ionia, Grand Rapids, Livonia, and then back to Grand Rapids where they settled into what would be their longtime home on Wyandotte, NE. As a father Larry was strict, but he was also very supportive. He got his kids involved in things like Indian Guides, Cub Scouts, Little League, and football, even coaching his boys in football when they were young. Larry also served as the director for Northview track for years. Larry enjoyed spending time with his family and their ham radio. Larry’s call sign was Scamp, and Carole and the kids each had a name as well.
Over the years Larry was a man of many interests. He and Carole were a social couple who enjoyed bowling, dancing, and riding with the "Goldwing" group, primarily on day trips. During his younger years Larry enjoyed fishing including fly fishing with his dad, often for trout on the AuSable River. Later on, he had a small aluminum boat for fishing. Larry did enjoy golfing for a time and also watched golf on television. He had a lifelong interest in computers, and much of his work was with older computers and large data processors.
Larry worked hard in everything he did. His earliest days were spent working in the office at various plants including Oliver Machinery and Honeywell. Larry later worked as a retail manager for Wolverine World Wide, then for Wolverine Coil, and he ended his career as a system analyst for Suspa Inc. Larry retired when he was 72, but just a couple of months later, he suffered a stroke, which greatly limited him. Carole cared for him at home for as long as she was able, which was about five years. Larry was frustrated by his limitations, and it could be easy to see and affected his personality. Dementia also crept in. One of the things he said he enjoyed most was simply sitting in the background at family events, taking it all in.
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Lawrence Brown lived a life willing to help others in any way he could. He had a strong personality and a course sense of humor, but those who knew him just accepted him for who he was. Larry was a hardworking man who enjoyed spending time with family and friends. He will never be forgotten.
Larry E. Brown, age 79 of Grand Rapids, passed away August 30, 2015. He is survived by his wife, Carole; children Robin (Gerry) Whiteman, Scott (Viv) Brown, Craig (Sue) Brown; grandchildren Ricky (Amy) Clellan, Nicole Clellan; brother-in-law Ron Beach; nieces and nephews. The service to remember and celebrate his life will be held on Thursday, September 3 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave. NE where friends may visit with his family for one hour prior to the service and for a time following the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to a charity of one's choice are appreciated. To read more about Larry's life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com