Saying good-bye is never easy

Country Roads

My high school graduating class was composed of 42 fresh-faced baby boomers anxious to meet the world. Our school was a recent reorganization of three small school districts and we were the first freshman class in the fall of 1962.

We started out with more students but by May of 1966 our number had dwindled to three and a half dozen. While the classes immediately ahead of and behind us began losing members relatively early on, our class took pride over the years that all 42 of us were still kicking.

Every five years since graduation we have had class reunions which have been faithfully attended, even by those who had moved a considerable distance from home. Each of our reunions, I recall, have been attended by more than half of our classmates.

Two summers ago we enjoyed our 50th class reunion and once again we took joy and pride in the fact that all 42 of us were still living. Anyone we shared that fact with agreed it was remarkable.

That status changed earlier this summer. Our classmate, Larry Hoversten, died on June 8 in the Twin Cities.

I met Larry on our first day of high school in August 1962. He was one of the “Williams kids.” Our new school district was comprised of three communities ̶ Blairsburg, Kamrar and Williams. Though we rapidly became one united class, we identified individually as being from one of our three little towns.

Larry and I became acquainted quickly because we shared a locker and did so for all four years of our high school experience. I can be a bit of a neat freak and was delighted to discover that Larry was an excellent locker mate. Some classmates had to worry about their lockermate’s stinking gym shoes (or worse) but Larry and I kept a relatively neat locker.

We were both from large families. He was the next to the youngest of a farm family of nine children and I was the oldest of a town family of six. His baby sister was just two classes behind us.

Though it’s been more than a half century, I remember Larry got better grades than I did. (A lot of my classmates got better grades than I did!)

Larry had a unique sense of humor ̶ reserved but with a keen sense of wit. His distinctive voice made his witticisms even funnier.

On occasional Sunday afternoons several of us classmates carpooled from our communities to Webster City and went to a movie together. At that time the Webster Theater’s seats were older, narrow and short on knee room. Being larger than your average high school kid, I was uncomfortable there but didn’t want to miss out on the fun.

One Sunday afternoon our group was watching a movie with an adult theme. During one racy scene I got a leg cramp resulting from the small, tight seating. As I struggled to straighten my leg Larry, who was sitting next to me, exclaimed with some volume, “What’s wrong, Arvid, can’t you take it?”

While I was a bit embarrassed I joined in the laughter. I may have been angry at a stranger but Larry was my friend and I envied his wit. Besides, I enjoyed paybacks.

One of the sad realities of life is that, particularly for students in small schools, we spend four years together and become good friends only to graduate and drift apart. I always considered Larry a friend, but we only saw each other at class reunions.

After college Larry joined the Navy and became a Corpsman which led to a career in hospital administration.

A couple of reunions ago I learned that Larry had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. My father had lived with Parkinson’s for 25 years and my heart went out to Larry and his family.

Larry is survived by his wife, Margaret, two sons, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter.

Larry’s passing is sobering. Most members of the Class of 1966 are observing 70th birthdays this year and we are increasingly aware of our own mortality. To that end, we are reminded to love the people God gave us because one day He’ll take them back.

Rest in peace, Larry.

COMMENTS