Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

An Ode to Larry

I found out today that my good friend Larry Carolla had died. Over one month ago. On March 15, 2017 at approximately 10:38 a.m. he called his ex-wife to say he didn’t feel right. She was alarmed, told him to call 911 and that she would be right there. She was at his duplex in two minutes, the paramedics within 10, but he was dead instantly of a massive heart attack and unresponsive.

Unresponsive. Larry was the most responsive person I knew. Always. About everything. With that word in her email and subsequent phone call, I knew he was gone. Just that morning he had posted on his Facebook page beginning at 6 something a.m. some indignities about the Republicans and Obama Care. He was furious. He texted Sheri a few hours later and then he was gone.

I had missed his presence. There hadn’t been the usual opinions on Facebook. No emails since Valentine’s Day. I knew something was wrong. I assumed it was the hip surgery he had planned, so I emailed his ex. They lived 12 blocks away in a small Oklahoma town. I knew she would know and she did. How kind it was of her to call. And in her state of shock, console and try to cheer me…Larry’s friend since 5th grade at Wooddale Elementary School in Edina.

Larry and I could have argued about that. He said he met me in his 4th grade class. He remembered it distinctly. But I didn’t move to the East side of Edina until the middle of 5th grade. I didn’t argue with him. Larry could argue the pants off a brass monkey as my Grandfather would say. I couldn’t. Our arguments would end with me in peals of laughter or tears before I would ever win. I didn’t often partake!

Larry called me his “Sky Pilot” because of my faith. He loved my Faith. He loved my Christianity. He’d become Jewish in his adult life after being raised Episcopalian and attending Jesuit colleges. He loved the Jewish faith and people. So did I. We had much in common. And we were both bipolar. This was a big connection between us. Larry floated mostly manic. I strove for the even keel. He took lithium and was never, ever depressed. He was Larry, or a bit manic, or more so.

I take all my meds, on time always. Right now I’m in remission they call it. But for some years, I fought hypo-mania (slightly manic). I can’t take lithium and they had me on anti-depressants which pushed me hypo-manic. I didn’t really know the cause of it. My doctors weren’t aware of what was causing it. I fought the condition all the way. always striving for balance. Yoyo-ing between being a bit manic and depressed. It was tough. During this time I was on disability, worked part-time and opened two businesses.

Larry always worked, flourished often. talked up a blue streak and did quite well. A successful journalist, radio talk personality and entrepreneur. He was a genius. I’m smart, but I’m not a genius. I’m a hard worker and good at sales. Larry always wanted us to work together.

When he died he had another successful business venture he was building. He wanted me to come on board. Never happened. It never will. He’d gotten into some trouble a while back in Wyoming. He paid off his debt to society and all the restitution that went with it. He was no longer bound by any of it. Life had come full circle for him. He was happy and prosperous again. He had not a care, but the doctors weren’t happy. They wanted him to go on Statin drugs. He didn’t want to. I wasn’t privy to this conversation. I would have argued with him about that, but he would have won. He didn’t like hospitals. He didn’t like drugs. He was going to win by losing weight. He was on Nutri Systems. He’d gained 5 pounds on the diet so far. He was a genius. But not about everything!

Larry always said he was the type to give heart attacks not get a heart attack. Years ago, on the phone we were joking about this. I said I thought I was the same way. We fancied ourselves trouble makers in this conversation! He said when we were old we would have outlived out spouses and we would get together in the same nursing home and raise holy terror. Just one of his dreams about us. I went along, he was so taken with the idea. I guess you had to be there! LOL!

Dear Lar. You’re not here anymore to plot capers with. I’m far too well to get crazy with you again. I think it sounds like you were too. You were optimistic and bright about the future. You had your new duplex with a beautiful home office. Your precious Mollie dog was there with you that day. Dear Sheri and you were closer than ever and seeing each other regularly, dearest of friends.

I guess you could say you were at a very high point in your life. Sixty-four years old and you of the big voice of our High School, were living large like you like to live! You were at the top of your game. I’m so very sorry, dear friend that your body would not cooperate. As your Sky Captain I’m here for your winging your way home, my Jewish friend. I know you have by now found many great and intelligent people to debate! And you have a fresh perspective that will keep you from getting too upset, and a new heart that won’t be stressed if you do.

Thank you for the countless hours of conversation we have shared and the laughs!

Larry Gary and I at last Summer’s HS Reunion

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Dr. Seuss

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15 thoughts on “An Ode to Larry

  1. Kathy Smith Hegg on said:

    I’m so glad to have had a chance to chat with Larry at the reunion last summer. RIP Larry

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy, I think we’re all very glad Larry made it to the reunion! He was in rare form and enjoyed himself immensely! He contributed a lot by being there and of course could never have known it would be his last. 😦

      Like

  2. Linda Merry on said:

    Beautifully written Libby. I’m so sorry for your loss of Larry. Sounds like you had a fun friendship. So many friends passing in their 60s these days!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patrice Horstman on said:

    Libby thank you so much for your loving tribute to our friend Larry. I was getting worried that he hadn’t posted anything on FB for awhile…and there is certainly much to rant about. It is hard to believe that the voice of Edina is silent. So many memories of great times shared at Edina. And the reconnection on FB and some shared phone calls. He had his demons but he was always a true friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Merrily "nee Harris" Snider on said:

    Thank you Libby for letting us know about our friend Larry. I have been busy lately and only get on Facebook late in the day if at all. News is so dismal that I can take only so much. I had noticed that the plethora of comments from Larry seemed to be absent. Today, however, I was looking around and saw his name and clicked on it to hopefully see what was going on. And than I came to your ODE. What a shock! I knew he had some aches and pains but, I never realized how little of his life was left. Somehow, that is better for the one that dies but, in a way I think it is better for the people who are left as well. Was Sheri his ex-wife. Hopefully that was a comfort to both of them.

    I too grew up in Edina and went to Wooddale Elementary. My class was the first to go to the new Concord Elementary and the first graduating class. Larry called me Home Girl. I guess he had pet names for his friends. I loved Larry’s mind and writing skills. We agreed on most everything. I thought he might have weaned himself off of Facebook since he was so adamant about his belief. People warned him to watch his blood pressure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Sheri was his ex-wife and current best friend which was so typical of Larry. So you are Home Girl! Nice to meet you! I have heard him speak of you many times and that is the name I remember him calling you mostly!

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      • Merrily Snider on said:

        Thank you Libby for letting me know that. He was a very special friend on FB. After all, we don’t meet but we get a general idea of people like Larry. I always loved reading his diatribes. He was right so much of the time. I too worried about his blood pressure when he would fill several pages with his thoughts. I miss him!

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  5. Lucie Fralickss on said:

    Thank you so much for your lovely ode to Larry. He worked for me many years ago in Dallas and stayed friends through the years. I noticed he’d be absent from Facebook but I couldn’t have ever imagined the reason why. I got to see Larry and Sherri when I was in OKC last year and now I’m so grateful I took the time to make it happen. He will be missed!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks, Libby, for writing of Larry. It was Al Arneson who wrote me late last night (Friday) about Larry’s passing and directed me to your comments. So this is the first that I have heard of my friend’s death. Larry and I are both graduates Edina High School, and I am three or four years older than he.

    We first became acquainted in about 1965 or 66 when he was informed of my in-home radio station that I was operating at my parents house in Edina. He soon became my program director. More student staff came along and we all had a great time for the next several years operating that Edina radio station, KLHM.

    Larry always exuded confidence and was a natural leader. He remained a friend through these years, though we have had long periods of no contact. We are on the opposite ends of political and spiritual realms; yet he and I both respected the person of one another. We engaged in many written discussions these recent years. He said he loves me, and often expressed how he thought my Christian conduct and faith walk was a kind type, and that my communication with him was respectful. He never criticized or ridiculed my personal faith walk, though denounced with vitriol all Christian pastors, except one whom he held on some respect, and all Christian church groups in general. He felt they were all about controlling people and about gaining material provisions. He was unafraid to confront practices which he held to be immoral. I respected that.

    I was saddened by his over-arching generalization, but eventually gave up trying to point out the facts that I had observed in my many years of service in churches. He is correct, I find, about abuses in much religious enterprises. Larry was convinced of his facts and experience, a man who was passionate about helping people be successful in their businesses and in their enjoyment of life.

    He was faithful to me, and in his work as a volunteer broadcaster in my young radio station in the 1960s. He was a great encouragement to me personally and professionally.

    He was a friend.

    Kimball Cummings Jr.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. He was a good friend. It saddened me too Kimball the vitriol he had toward so much of Christianity, but it didn’t stop him from loving his Christian friends and respecting them.

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  8. Cerie Segal on said:

    thank you for your kind words about Larry. And thank you for so much information I had heard a rumor that he had passed away but couldn’t find anybody with the details. I worked. with Larry at KAAM in Dallas and the ABC Radio Networks. Always funny and a fun guy. And you’re right he had nicknames for everyone. Wasn’t it fun? I will certainly miss him and I see there are lots of other people that feel the same way. how lucky we all were to have him in our life it’s just a shame it was so short a time.

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  9. I agree, Cerie, his time was way to short. However considering how much he hated hospitals and avoided them at all costs…it makes some sense. This particular cowboy lived his life on all terms! It doesn’t make us miss him any less!

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