ForeverMissed
Video of service: https://webcast.funeralvue.com/events/viewer/62202

Bob (Robert) “Lars” Larson, 89, of Columbia Heights, MN, passed peacefully from this world on Sunday, September 19th, 2021, of natural causes with his family by his side. Bob survived a Covid infection in 2020 but didn’t recover his pre-Covid strength and capabilities. 

Bob was born in central Wisconsin, grew up in Poynette, and married his high school sweetheart, Joan Hall. After Bob’s four years of Navy service, they settled in Milwaukee, WI. Bob started at IBM servicing punch card readers and worked his way up to executive over a 30+ year career. While in Milwaukee, Bob and Joan welcomed their children Kim, Joe, and Kyle. The family moved several times during Bob’s time with IBM: to Pine Island, MN, back to Milwaukee, then to Minneapolis, MN, and lastly, Bob, Joan, and youngest son Kyle moved to Dallas, TX. 

While in Dallas, Bob and Joan became certified addiction counselors and operated their own outpatient addiction treatment center. After retirement from IBM, he fulfilled an ambition to complete college, attaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas Woman’s University at age 65. He later retired from addiction counseling to pursue wood crafts, built furniture for his grandchildren, constructed two sea kayaks, and achieved a skill level as a woodturner that earned him a blue ribbon at the Texas State Fair. Because of a special connection he felt with the BWCA, Bob never missed an opportunity to visit there.

Bob was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous. While in Dallas, he became a practicing Buddhist. He was passionate against discrimination of any kind, participated in Dallas protests supporting rights for marginalized communities, and advocated for his church to become a “welcoming” congregation. After losing Joan to cancer, Bob was fortunate to wed Mary Lou, a true native Texan. They enjoyed many happy years together, each with their own creative pursuits, traveling, and giving back to the community, before Mary Lou’s passing in 2011. 

When Mary Lou passed, Bob returned to Minneapolis, where his closest surviving family lived. In Minnesota, Bob was a member of Faith United Methodist Church, the Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center and continued attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He enjoyed spending time with Kyle’s and Cheryl’s families, close friends Bob and Nancy Johnson, as well as new friends he made through his many activities. 

Bob was preceded in death by his first wife Joan, their daughter Kim, their son Joe, second wife Mary Lou, parents Ernest and Carol (Millard) Larson, brother Dean Larson, sister Linda Cutsforth, and granddaughter Marisa Lilley. Bob is survived by son and daughter-in-law Kyle (Gina) Larson, grandchildren Erin and Skyler Larson, daughter-in-law Cheryl (Doug) Lilley, granddaughter Shayna (Mike) Morsch, and great-granddaughter Paisley Morsch, as well as many nieces, nephews, and friends throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Texas.  

In lieu of flowers, please direct memorials to Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, nmworg.org

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Celebration of Life: October 23rd, 1:00 visitation, 2:00 service
Gearty Delmore Funeral Chapel
3888 W Broadway Ave, Robbinsdale, MN 55422
(763) 537-4511

The second celebration of life, yet to be scheduled, will be held in Poynette, WI, and announced on Bob’s (this) memorial website: www.forevermissed.com/robert-m-larson.

Posted by Kyle Larson on October 25, 2021
From: Kenneth Belanus , Oct 21, 2021

Hello Kyle,

Thank you so much for sending me this. I’m Ken Belanus married to Wally and Elaine MacPhee’s daughter, Anne. We spent many happy Christmas Eves with your dad and Mary Lou. They came to Stillwater to visit us all and again to celebrate Elaine’s 80th.

I met your dad on a tense Saturday morning intervention for Wally. It was successful and resulted in seventeen years of sobriety and healthy friendships for Wally and Elaine. Your dad took special care of Wally and definitely had a big part in saving his life. On that Saturday Wally’s life expectancy was less than six months if rehab failed.

I’m a serious woodturner and woodworker and I have never met anyone I enjoyed spending twenty minutes with at a Christmas or July fourth party. We loved to share each other’s enthusiasm for our work. I have a bowl of his and he had maybe a threaded toothpick holder or some similar small scale item of mine.

Elaine also had covid in 2020 and recovered but Parkinson’s and isolation weakened her too. She died in March 2021 at 90. Wally had passed in 2007 and your dad spoke at his service.

I’m sure there are a ton of stories and lives saved from the powers of addiction by your dad’s counseling and AA participation. I’ll add me and Anne to that list. We realized we could not continue to use alcohol in front of our children and our relationship to Wally was not right if we wouldn’t support him by joining him in sobriety. As a result we avoided going further into our almost certain addictions. So thanks to all Larson’s…we found far better and healthier hobbies.

Your dad was very special. He had the gift of love and shared it with so many people. We are blessed to have known him.

Share this story as you see fit. We send our prayers for you and the family.

Be well always,
Ken and Anne Belanus
Stillwater Oklahoma
Posted by Steve Crye on October 21, 2021
Bob Larson was a dear friend and mentor to me. I enjoyed my time with Bob and Mary Lou and learned much from them both. Condolences to his family.
Posted by Kathy Amos on October 20, 2021
Bob was my second line manager for about a year when I hired on with IBM in 1977 in Rochester, MN. I moved to several other locations, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw him again in the Dallas area, as we attended the same church.
Bob was so kind and so genuine. He was a blessing to many. I still have one of the wooden bowls he so lovingly and skillfully made out of a tree from my yard.
My condolences to the family.
Posted by Bob Brewster on October 17, 2021
Bob Larson was one of the kindest, gentlest people I have ever known. Underneath his genteel persona burned many passions for a large number of causes dear to him. Laurel and I enjoyed spending time with Bob and Mary Lou in the Dallas area and listening to Bob’s stories about his family, career, causes and his beloved Boundary Waters. We offer our deepest condolences to Kyle and the rest of Bob’s family. Rest In Peace, my friend.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Kyle Larson on October 25, 2021
From: Kenneth Belanus , Oct 21, 2021

Hello Kyle,

Thank you so much for sending me this. I’m Ken Belanus married to Wally and Elaine MacPhee’s daughter, Anne. We spent many happy Christmas Eves with your dad and Mary Lou. They came to Stillwater to visit us all and again to celebrate Elaine’s 80th.

I met your dad on a tense Saturday morning intervention for Wally. It was successful and resulted in seventeen years of sobriety and healthy friendships for Wally and Elaine. Your dad took special care of Wally and definitely had a big part in saving his life. On that Saturday Wally’s life expectancy was less than six months if rehab failed.

I’m a serious woodturner and woodworker and I have never met anyone I enjoyed spending twenty minutes with at a Christmas or July fourth party. We loved to share each other’s enthusiasm for our work. I have a bowl of his and he had maybe a threaded toothpick holder or some similar small scale item of mine.

Elaine also had covid in 2020 and recovered but Parkinson’s and isolation weakened her too. She died in March 2021 at 90. Wally had passed in 2007 and your dad spoke at his service.

I’m sure there are a ton of stories and lives saved from the powers of addiction by your dad’s counseling and AA participation. I’ll add me and Anne to that list. We realized we could not continue to use alcohol in front of our children and our relationship to Wally was not right if we wouldn’t support him by joining him in sobriety. As a result we avoided going further into our almost certain addictions. So thanks to all Larson’s…we found far better and healthier hobbies.

Your dad was very special. He had the gift of love and shared it with so many people. We are blessed to have known him.

Share this story as you see fit. We send our prayers for you and the family.

Be well always,
Ken and Anne Belanus
Stillwater Oklahoma
Posted by Steve Crye on October 21, 2021
Bob Larson was a dear friend and mentor to me. I enjoyed my time with Bob and Mary Lou and learned much from them both. Condolences to his family.
Posted by Kathy Amos on October 20, 2021
Bob was my second line manager for about a year when I hired on with IBM in 1977 in Rochester, MN. I moved to several other locations, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw him again in the Dallas area, as we attended the same church.
Bob was so kind and so genuine. He was a blessing to many. I still have one of the wooden bowls he so lovingly and skillfully made out of a tree from my yard.
My condolences to the family.
his Life

Kyle’s testament to his father, Robert (Bob) “Lars” Larson


My dad was a seeker.  

Growing up, my mother, Joan, was the rock in our family.  Constant.  Always supportive.  Best friend to many.  Other kids wanted her as a Mom.  They would hang out at our house.  Later in life, to the question of what it’s like to be married to Bob, Joan would often answer, “Which one”?  

Bob and Joan grew up in and around the small town of Poynette, Wisconsin.  They knew each other growing up.  Bob served in the Navy, he and Joan married, and Bob then started his career in Milwaukee.  He grew to become another Bob, the IBM Bob.  More than once, other kids commented that they felt like Dad was interviewing them during family dinner.  Dad did well, rising through the corporate ranks, while Joan remained home with the family.  His children cherished spending time with him camping, vacationing, and boating.  Family-dad instead of IBM-Bob.  That was the real dad that outsiders did not see.  Enthused.  Fun.  Supportive.  Playful.  Loving.

Things were going pretty well until Bob got a wake-up call in the form of a DUI.  He decided to quit drinking and join AA.  That and an outpatient treatment program would change his path more than he even knew at the time.  Bob grew as his family grew.  His priorities changed—another Bob.  

The following Bob started abruptly.  Tragically.  Cataclysmically.  His son Joe instantly lost his life driving a semi in an accident.  Bob’s world shattered.  He would emerge from this wounded, with his wounded family, and with a diagnosis of “bipolar.”  Earlier in his IBM career, he had a guy who did great work but had mental health issues.  It was all good until the guy stopped taking his meds.  Then it went bad until they got him back on his meds.  Dad made a vow that if he ever needed that kind of help, he would always take his meds.  And he made good on that promise, living with bipolar to age 89.

Not that his journey was smooth.  There were 6 or 7 mental health hospitalizations he referred to as his “sojourns with insanity.” But, as painful as those were for his family, they were fascinating and, at times, enjoyable trips for Bob.  

My dad was a seeker.

In Texas, Bob and Joan would open an outpatient addiction treatment facility and become certified addiction counselors.  Bob worked after IBM as an addiction counselor.  They both saved lives.

Texan Bob, post-IBM-white-button-down-collar Bob, older Bob protested in Dallas for marginalized communities and worked to make his congregation “welcoming.”  Bob became a good nurse and househusband to Joan as she fought and faded with cancer.  Bob was single-Bob before marrying  Mary Lou.  Bob then went to Texas Women’s University to get a bachelor’s at age 65.  He returned to his childhood passion of woodworking but connected it with nature, selecting and cutting his own tree stumps, aging them, and lathe-turning them into his own artistic expressions.  He built sea kayaks for him and Mary Lou and furniture for his grandchildren.

Bob was a journeyman of his life and a student of others.  He read biographies, studied Native American culture and history, followed naturalists like Sigurd Olson and Alfred Leopold, read philosopher Henry David Thoreau, studied psychotherapist Carl Young, examined Christianity, Islam, Muslim, and Native American faiths, adopted and practiced Buddhism, meditated, attended retreats, and “journalled” daily for years.  His evolving Christian faith, AA 12-step practice, Buddhist practice and beliefs, and commitment to rights for marginalized communities were outward manifestations of a man with a vibrant inner life.  

Words and ideas and “knowing” were special for Bob.  In his later years, we would sometimes discuss, or kind of talk around, things like this.  He helped me affirm my belief that what is most important to me, and I believe to him, are things neither of us can verbalize.  I’ve come to understand that this kind of “knowing” or “being” is richly rewarding, intensely personal, deeply connective, and ironically isolating.  Thanks, Dad, honestly.

Like me, Dad couldn’t talk about his family very much, very seriously, without breaking down.  I understand that.  He signed many of his letters and writings with “Families are Forever.”  It seemed corny the first time I saw it. But, I’ve changed my opinion.  I wonder what the word “family” meant to him in this context.  And what the word “forever” meant to him.  

I’ll leave “forever” for you to ponder, but believe that by “family,” he meant more than immediate blood-relation family.  And don’t we all know that?  Did he mean the Family of Humankind? Sentient beings?  All that is Holy? More?

I do know that family includes two individuals to whom Dad and I owe special thanks; Dad’s close and family friend Bob Johnson and his nephew Paul Cutsforth.  When Mary Lou passed, Dad’s world changed cataclysmically a second time.  Dad barely made it through Mary Lou’s funeral in Dallas before Bob J, and Paul helped me get him into what would be his last inpatient “sojourn with insanity.”  

Once released, we moved Dad to assisted living in Minnesota to take care of him.  He lost his home, wife, church, Buddhist community, support system, woodworking shop, people, driving, control of his life, everything -- overnight.  It took 12 or 18 months for Dad to process, but he did overcome it.  The last Bob was known as “Lars.”  The assisted living center people loved him; he got to continue seeing Bob and Nancy J., make new friends, and spend time with my family.  

I could have never done it without my family’s support.  Again, special thanks to Bob J and Paul.  You both helped save Dad.  Come to think of it; Bob J helped save Dad-the-seeker on his journey that started with sobriety.  So Bob J gets two saves.  Oh, and Paul has another double-save that he or Bob J can share with you as well.

My dad was a seeker. He did well.  I am proud of him.  The skinny kid from Poynette, the “townie,” did well and good indeed! 

There is one last thing I need to share with y’all (I was in Dallas for 11 years).  When Dad returned from traveling, with Joan or Mary Lou, back from Wisconsin or other places, he would usually recall the trip chronologically by who he saw and where he went.  That’s not odd at all.  What’s quirky is he would remember and recite what he ate -- at each place.  Dad loved food;   loved eating it, loved sharing it.  He loved picking up the tab, and he gets to do so one last time after this service for those who are comfortable attending. 

What he left us

It's five days after his service. I'm sitting here wondering what legacy my father has left. What might be my legacy? Then I read something that sums it up for me: 
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