The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being. -- Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
  • 77 years old
  • Born on September 8, 1937 in Wachapreague, Virginia, United States.
  • Passed away on December 13, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio, United States.

This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Dr. Lawrence G. Lilliston, Ph.D., psychologist, social activist, Virginia gentleman and unconventional man.  He was born in Wachapreague on Virginia's Eastern Shore, the son of Berney and Ventrice, and the younger brother of Sam.  Later, Larry would often entertain his children and their friends with stories about growing up on the Shore. 

He attended the University of Virginia, and after dropping out, enrolled at the College of William and Mary where he met his future wife Cecilia. He attended graduate school at Xavier University in Cincinnati, and later Temple University in Philadelphia, where he earned his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1969. 

In 1968, his son Ben was born and two years later his second son Jean-Paul was born. In 1970, the family moved to Fayetteville where Larry taught at the University of Arkansas. In 1973, they moved to Rochester, MI, where Larry taught Psychology at Oakland University, serving as chair of the department in the early 1990s. 

His research focus spanned from his early years on the causes of schizophrenia to the study of the health and well-being of children living within marginalized religious communities. The intersection of psychology, children and religion was a particular focus, and he published many articles on the topic, and in the areas of values and coping. He was working on a book on mindfulness in children at the time of his death.  Larry always loved being in the classroom and teaching, and was mentor to many who went on to become psychologists themselves.  In his active private practice, he specialized in behavior modification and counseled children, teens and adults.

As an undergrad, he slung burgers with a Prince, hung out with Tom Robbins, shot pool with William Faulkner, and almost became a poet. As a young professor at Arkansas, he played charades with colleagues Bill and Hillary, and poet Miller Williams. For research, he lived with Hare Krishnas, studied new religious movements like The Family, drove the Badlands, and railed against the government assault in Waco.

He marched the Walk of Freedom in Detroit with Dr. King, travelled the world, rooted for the underdog, supported peace, believed in the golden rule, and performed Zen twirls.

Following the death of his first wife, Cecilia, renown social worker, in 1996, Larry met the second love of his life, Vicky Billington, whom he married in 2002. He is survived by his wife Vicky, sons Ben and JP, daughter Carson, daughters-in-law Julie and Ana, granddaughters Chloe, Melanie and Oriana, and sweet pup Gracie. 

Larry was a wonderful and hilarious story-teller. He loved music, food, books, arts and sports, and was a formidable Jeopardy player because of his knowledge of many subjects. 

He is greatly missed. 

We'd love to hear your memories, thoughts and stories about Larry.

Those who wish to further honor his memory may do so through a contribution to one of his favorite charities, Sojournors, at:  

Posted by Izzat Khapoya on 10th January 2015
Hi, I just found out about this site, so am a little late in posting this. Larry was one of the best professors I have ever had. I loved going to his classes. I was always sad when his classes ended. I looked forward to taking his tests cause they were always challenging and so well thought out. And then the professor became a friend, who was funny, warm, down to earth, and so insightful. I miss him. Be content wherever you are, my friend
Posted by M. E. Mittelstaedt on 1st January 2015
I was so sorry to hear that Larry had passed away. He was a friend, colleague, and mentor at OU. We sat on many committees together. Need I say, that unlike so many, he could always be counted on to come very well prepared. He often took on the lion's share of the work required. I admired him for his intelligence, honesty, his great dry wit, and his exceptional ability "to cut to the chase" when confronted with difficult issues and people. My prayer for his family and friends is that your memories of Larry will always provide you with answers to your problems, a smile to your face, peace, and great joy for having known him.
Posted by Abby Beard on 30th December 2014
Dr. Lilliston was my favorite professor at OU. I loved his classes and was so lucky to know him. I loved his lectures, jokes and stories and can still hear his laugh and see his heart warming smile.
Posted by Kimberly Byrd on 28th December 2014
I came to Oakland University in 1993 knowing I wanted to major in PSY, but not sure which route I wanted to pursue. Then I met Prof Lilliston! He one of the main reasons I am what I am today. Not only did I enjoy him as a Prof., but also as a friend. We talked about academic stuff, but most importantly we talked about my future, career, personal life, my family, his family, etc. I went onto Graduate School, but stayed in touch through the years. He met my future husband in 1997, but was out of town for our wedding in 1998. He (and his wife) guided me into a successful career as a social worker. I worked with Beaumont Hospice for 15 years before returning to Oakland University. I am now teaching and advising students. I try to give the students the same guidance and support he offered me. I can only try to live up to the greatness he was to me. My entire family knows how much Prof. Lilliston meant to me and we all offer our condolences to you. What an amazing man. The world was very lucky to have him in it. I will cherish every memory I have of him. Kimberly Byrd
Posted by Sherm Folland on 27th December 2014
Larry and I had lunch together many times. He was always sharp and interesting. We talked, for example, about books, politics and, of course, Oakland University. His views about the wider world, I thought, reflected the highest values. This is sad news.
Posted by Dave Blosser on 27th December 2014
We had the Great Treat of meeting Larry at JP and Julie's Wedding. It was a time of much celebration that was fill with many Larry stories and antidotes over the weekend. He had an internal spirt that captured the joy of life and he spread that joy to all he meet. A real people person that we are glad we spent some time with. My his spirit live on in the lives of his family and friends.... Lillian and Dave Blosser
Posted by Bill Papineau on 24th December 2014
I will always be appreciative to Larry for writing such a glowing letter of recommendation and more importantly believing in me when I was an undergraduate in psychology at Oakland in the 70's and helping me get accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Arkansas. I will always remember him as a warm and funny soil and a great mentor. My condolences to the family.
Posted by Katherine Lewitzke on 23rd December 2014
I was fortunate to have Dr. Lilliston as my undergraduate professor at Oakland University. I will always remember his unique sense of humor he brought into each lecture. Those were some of my favorite classes throughout my collegiate career. Dr. Lilliston was a very kind, intelligent, and inspirational person. His passion for psychology influenced me to attend graduate school. For that I am so grateful. Dr. Lilliston will be deeply missed, but never forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with the Lilliston family.
Posted by Ben Lilliston on 22nd December 2014
Our good friends, Ted & Naomi and Keith & Paula, have reminisced about their time with Larry at Oakland University. I met Larry earlier when I came to Fayetteville, Arkansas for graduate school and Larry came the same year as a new faculty member. I remember my first encounter with Larry—I was talking at the door of another University of Arkansas faculty member and bemoaning the impossibility of getting a bagel—so of course Larry chimed in as we discussed what a bagel should be like and that it is not a doughnut. I liked him immediately because as others have said he was smart, witty, and that gleam in his eye when he knew he was going to say something funny or outrageous. We bonded over the isolation of Saturdays if you were not in the football stands, of how we had hoped that the Woo ruff laundry in town added some cultural diversity until we realized the d had fallen out of the sign, and that malto meal is no substitute for matzo meal. He was fun but he also had a sweet heart as I found out when I took my first graduate school class from Larry. I think it was called Psych diagnostics—we had a long essay test—my written test took up about ten pages---when I got my test back, there were no comments or a grade on the front of the blue book. I opened the bluebook and the first page had one word, “Good”, the next page “Excellent”, the next page “Incisive”, etc. each page had a one word superlative and none were repeated---Now imagine how that made me feel! He also enjoyed if the tables were turned---Larry was doing a demonstration of systematic desensitization with a student volunteer---He was in one room and our class of about 8 students were in an adjoining room watching through a one way mirror. So we decided that when he came back into the room we would all close our eyes and act asleep---I remember his coming in, saying “They’re all asleep!” and laughing. I like seeing Ted & Naomi’s / Keith & Paula’s comments on the “Larry” site and it brings back warm memories. I think he would like it that we are gathered together again and talking about him. To his dear sons, Ben & Jean-Paul, their spouses, Ana & Julie and especially to his wife Vicky who fought so hard at the end to keep him here a little longer, we send our condolences. From too much love of living, From home and fear set free, We thank with brief thanksgiving Whatever gods may be That no life lives forever; That dead men rise up never; That even the weariest river Winds somewhere safe to sea. Then star nor sun shall waken, Nor any change of light: Nor sound of waters shaken, Nor any sound of sight: Nor wintry leaves nor vernal, Nor days nor things diurnal; Only the sleep eternal In an eternal night. Algernon Charles Swinburne Dena Scher
Posted by Lisa Irwin on 22nd December 2014
I was very saddened to hear of Dr. Liliston's passing. See, I was one of those students who went on to become a psychologist so had the great fortune of keeping in contact. At least now I know that the "G" in his name is not really for "Gorgeous" like he tried to tell me all these years. Oh, the stories! I always knew I'd be laughing. One of my favorites was his theory about the pants and how he declared one day, "I have enough pants to last me the rest of my life". Then he added, "Now I'm going set to working on the shoes!" Great fun. He'll be missed as a one-of-a-kind mentor and friend. Rest in peace Dr. L..
Posted by Kay Webster on 20th December 2014
Larry was one of my best friends at Central High School on our beloved Eastern Shore of Va. His intelligence, caring and great sense of humor assured him a place of honor at all functions. Everyone loved Larry! I will miss him and offer my sympathy to his family and friends.
Posted by Keith And Paula Stanovich on 20th December 2014
We were so sad to hear about Larry’s passing. He was a wonderful friend and colleague to us for many years while we lived and worked in Michigan. He changed us in some profound ways and for that we are very thankful. Here are a few of our memories of our dear friend: Larry is responsible for our love of jazz. He introduced us to some of his favorite artists through both recordings and live performances. We loved arriving home to hear his voice coming out of our answering machine inviting us to an event: “Jazz alert! Jazz alert!” he would boom into the phone. And it was always something we have been fools to miss. One of our favorite live performances was seeing Mark Murphy at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge with Larry. And, the blues. Who could think of Larry without remembering trips to Mrs. Morgan’s Boarding House and him referencing one of his favorite blues titles, “Stoop Down Baby.” We loved sitting and listening to Larry tell a good story. Often, when out with him, we could not properly eat our dinners because we were laughing so hard. After so many years, many of the specifics of the stories are lost, but we remember the joy on his face and the twinkle in his eye as he once again put us all in stitches. Also, we don't know many people (well, no one else, actually) with whom you could have a deep philosophical discussion on your way to a boxing match! One of the things we will never forget about Larry is the devilish joy he took in humorously skewering some aspect of life that he found particularly ridiculous. He would especially target aspects of his chosen profession. Those of you who knew him at Oakland surely remember his creation of the LTPT?! It involved a two by two matrix…and we’ll stop here. If you remember it, you’ll understand why. Larry always took great care of his friends. One of our fondest memories involved the Lillistons’ planning and organizing a farewell party for us when we left Oakland. The music was fabulous, of course, but the food and drink were even better as Larry had the gathering catered by Louisiana Creole Gumbo, one of his and our favorite Detroit eateries. As always, live lived to the fullest and with great flare. That was the Larry we loved. You are sadly missed, dear friend. Keith and Paula Stanovich
Posted by Vicky Billington on 18th December 2014
Vicky you and the family are in my prayers. Love you Virginia and Family
Posted by Ben Lilliston on 18th December 2014
Larry was a great colleague and an even better friend. I've been away from Michigan for the past ten years, so I obviously had not seen Larry as often as I used to — which was almost every day, where we'd take time from our daily routines to chat about the day's events, from local OU gossip to international news. Over the past decade, on my occasional visits to Michigan, having lunch with Larry and Dean was always one of the highlights. For about half of our stay in Michigan, Larry and his family were also our next door neighbors...another plus. We still remember the tradition of our son, Brian, going over to their house after Christmas — to help take down the tree and share in the cookies — with Larry, Cecilia, Ben and Jean-Paul. We also shared many Thanksgiving dinners together. What I will likely remember most about Larry is his sense of humor...from the hilarious stories he would tell to his enjoyment at my occasional attempts at doing so. I will miss that. And I will miss him. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all of his family. Ted Landau & Naomi Auerbach

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