What defines a real friend?
When we moved to the new grade school in the fall of 1964, a Special Education class was added and students from as far as Carroll attended this class in Manning.
Kickball, with one of those big rubber balls, was a favorite game during recess. I remember this tall guy from Carroll who was in Special Ed could kick that ball the farthest of anyone.
He was quite a bit older than me but I didn't pay much attention to this and I do remember how friendly he was with all of us younger kids. He would show the less talented kids how to kick the ball and explain how the game worked.
This went on for many years so I got to know him quite well and we talked frequently but I never asked what his last name was - all we kids knew was Larry, then one year he no longer attended school here in Manning and of course I moved on to Jr. High and then High School, graduating in 1975.

Now fast forward to sometime in the late 1970s when one day a car drove up on our farmyard and a guy gets out. I immediately recognized him as "Larry" but didn't know his last name.
I was surprised at how he didn't look as tall as I remembered, since I was now fully grown.

He knew me by name and introduced himself as Larry Owen from Carroll and told me he was tracking down teachers he remembered from his time here at Manning and for some reason I must have made a good impression on him all those years ago that he wanted to look me up too.

Unfortunately, some kids would tease and were mean to the Special Ed kids as I think back, so I must have NOT been one of them...I certainly don't remember being mean and actually didn't think of them any different than all the other kids we played with on the playground.

Larry sent me several of the pictures to scan that he took of school staff he had tracked down and were from his time here at Manning. I wish now I would have asked him if I could have scanned his notebook that he was keeping that had the list of people he wanted to meet up with and take their pictures...the list was long and he told me the names of the ones he was able to locate and close enough to drive to and meet...here are several of the people that treated him kindly as a student that he went to meet over a 5-year period.

I don't know if he was able to finish his quest but I know he had fun doing it.

Dorothy Groteluschen - music teacher

Ruby (Struve) Edmunds - school nurse

Hugo Jahn - school janitor

Eileen Thompson - school teacher

Larry Rowedder - PE

Every year since that time Larry Owen came to visit me at our farm, he has sent me a Christmas card/note.

I kept every one of them and have scanned a couple from the later years to his last one this past Christmas.
I knew right away something was seriously wrong, as he repeated his words several times.

Larry worked at the GE plant in Carroll for decades - I forget now how many until the plant closed. Then Larry worked at the Carroll School as a janitor.

Based on his Christmas messages he had a great outlook on life and seemed to be happy most of the time but sadly, his life had a number of challenges too, with several of his siblings fighting with and dying from Cancer and now it got him in 2021.

Larry Eugene Owen

Larry Eugene Owen, age 71, of Carroll, IA, passed away on Friday, February 19, 2021 at Regency Park in Carroll.

Visitation Wednesday, February 24, 2021 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
There will be a prayer service at the funeral home at 6:30 PM on Wednesday evening during the visitation.
Mass of the Christian Burial Holy Spirit Catholic Church Thursday, February 25, 2021 10:30 AM Carroll.
The casket will be moved to Holy Spirit Church at 9:30 A.M. on Thursday where visitation will resume until 10:15 A.M.

Mass of the Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at St. John Paul II Parish - Holy Spirit Church in Carroll with Fr. Kevin Richter as Celebrant. Music for the mass will be by Jane Heithoff and Duane Handlos. Casket bearers will be Matt Owen, Mike Owen, Quentin Buswell, Don Buswell, Tanner Teague, and Scott Mikkelsen. Burial will be in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Carroll.

Friends may call at the Dahn and Woodhouse Funeral Home in Carroll after 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday where there will be a Christian Wake Service held at 6:30 P.M. The casket will be moved to Holy Spirit Church at 9:30 A.M. on Thursday where visitation will resume without greeting the family until 10:15 A.M.

Those in attendance at Larry's visitation and Mass are asked to abide by Covid-19 guidelines and facemasks are required at the funeral home and at the church.

Larry was born on September 29, 1949 in Carroll, Iowa, and was the son of Lewis and Frances (Lehrter) Owen. He is a lifelong resident of Carroll and graduated from Carroll High School in 1971. Larry worked for General Electric in Carroll beginning when they opened in 1972 until its closing in 2010. He then worked for Carroll High School as a janitor until he retired in 2017. He was a member of Holy Spirit Parish. Larry enjoyed reading, playing pool, collecting, taking photos of family and friends, visiting with people, and spending time with his family.

Larry is survived by his mother Frances Owen of Carroll; his siblings and their families: brother, Dan Owen (Diane) of Carroll; brother, Dave Owen of Scranton; sister, Donna Haley of Carroll; a brother-in-law, Don Buswell of Carroll; several aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins, and other extended family members.

Larry was preceded in death by his father Lewis; and two sisters: Connie Owen and Kathy Buswell.

Late 1970s Christmas card from Larry

Backside of picture

2007 card from Larry

2018 card from Larry

2018 Christmas card
Note how Larry visited people in the Carroll Nursing Homes - he obviously loved people.
He also enjoyed playing pool each afternoon with his 3 friends.

2019 Christmas card

2020 Christmas card

I knew something was wrong as soon as I started reading his 2020 message - it was printed and he always wrote in cursive...then I was shocked to read his repeated message about both he and his brother having brain tumors removed.

I'm not showing this last message for shock factor but to show how even fighting with reduced cognitive abilities, he still remembered me and thought of me as his "best friend."

I hope everyone has a friend like Larry...they are hard to find, especially life-long friendship.

The last time I spoke to Larry in person, was about 3 years ago when I was in Carroll going into a business when all of a sudden I saw this tall guy crossing the street and heading my way.
I stood there and as he came closer I said "Larry" and he looked at me and said "David," he was out for one of his walks he talked about in his 2018 card.

I know that this Christmas I'll sure deeply miss getting a Christmas card from "Larry."

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