REMEMBERING LARRY DUBBS
Everyone loved Larry Dubbs. In the 50 years he was my friend, I never heard a bad word spoken about Larry. Never! And, I never heard him ever say a bad word about anyone else. To his vast army of friends he was generous, loyal, tolerant, kind, funny, big-hearted and forgiving. He accepted people for what they were, not for what he wanted them to be. He had a keen memory that could conjure up even the most obscure event from years past. In our half-century friendship, we shared many experiences and adventures, including some notorious ones from our pre-adult years (we remained pre-adult longer than most people). The boys-will-be-boys things we did often brought trouble upon us, though not to Larry. He always seemed to escape getting caught--oh, what Jim and Francis, Larrys parents, didnt know! I used to think it was dumb luck, but now, reflecting back, I believe it was karma.
Larry Dubbs had an outgoing, engaging personality and was comfortable in any kind of social setting, be it with rich and famous big shots or small fry. He seemed unaffected by fame and genuinely interested in what people had to say. He never condescended or put on airs of superiority, and he didnt thirst for flattery. Larry was comfortable with who he was and didnt need the stroking or puffery of others to validate his worth. Possessed of extraordinary people skills, Larry made those around him feel at ease. He could bring out the humanity in a person, even from someone who didnt seem to possess any. If you can forgive the over-used cliché, he made those around him better.
Larry was the most positive person Ive ever knownthe classic glass half-full kind. He never seemed to get down or discouraged. Through the travails with his heart, which would have driven an ordinary man into fits of gloom and self-pity, he stayed positive, his zest for life unflinching. He would not let his heart problems slow him down or alter his approach to living. Even through the trauma of his brain tumors, he never lost his sense of humor. Until his body began to betray him, he lived every day to the fullest.
America has undergone a significant transformation from when Larry and I were young. We grew up in a civic culture that celebrated hard work, personal responsibility, trustfulness, compassion and community, virtues that guided our lives and our relationships. Today our culture is dominated largely by the endless quest for wealth, material possessions and personal gain. Distrust, intolerance, narcissism, self-centeredness and retribution have become all too prevalent in social relationships. Larry was a throwback; he never abandoned the virtues inculcated in our generation. He remained true to the values he was raised to believe in: hard work, industriousness, generosity, honesty, fairness, cooperation, reliability, integrity, remembrance, and neighborliness. These values served him well throughout his life and go far to explaining his success in business as well as his appeal to his fellow men and women. He didnt need a college degree, credential, or some textbook truths to be a professional success; his business acumen was based on common sense and the simple principle of treating people honestly and fairly. He believed in a face-to-face, hands-on, approach to problem solving, with its implicit belief that people could rise above their narrow self-interest and find common ground. He sought win-win solutions. Larry could have been ruthless and cutthroat, and gained tons of material wealth as a result, but that wasnt what Larry Dubbs was about. That wouldnt have made him happy. For Larry, happiness was, as they say, a manner of traveling, not a station you arrived at. He liked the process; he was happiest when he made others happy.
Larry took pleasure in simple things. I dont think Ive known anyone who derived so much joy out of everyday living. Unlike most people, he didnt do things for recognition or material reward, or even the satisfaction that comes from a job well done; he engaged in social activities because they afforded him the opportunity to engage with other people, rejoicing and mourning, laughing and crying, overcoming and struggling. He was always there for others, to offer words of encouragement or a shoulder to cry on. Larry loved being with family and friends, his wife, Lynda, his horses, on the golf course, the over-the-line courts, and just about any other social setting involving people. He was a consummate story teller and a repository for the stories of others. It didnt matter if Id heard his stories before. They kindled fond memories and helped me re-connect with my past, a past that I was lucky enough to have shared with him. But dont get me wrong; like our good friend John Allison, who died unexpectedly last December, Larry lived in the present. Larry and John were not hung up on past glories, though they both had many, nor did they spend much time worrying about the future; they lived for the now. I think this is what I most admired in both of them.
I was with Larry and some old fraternity brothers on a golf outing in Tahoe the weekend before he found out about his brain tumors. Over that long weekend, he was his usual lively, engaging, fun-loving, funny, witty, irreverent, enjoyable self. He won big at the poker table, and as was his style, shared his fortune with the group. While the rest of us bemoaned the bad fortune of seeing it snow in Tahoe in the third week of May, to Larry this was just another of natures blessings. He was clearly at peace with himself. This is the way I will always remember Larry; it was the only Larry Dubbs I ever knew.
I want everyone to pause and reflect on the kind of person Larry was. Think of what America would be like if everyone was like Larry Dubbs. One could not find a better citizen. The virtues Larry embodied, his trustfulness, honesty, tolerance, responsibility, sense of fairness, selflessness, optimism, and love of family and country, are virtues that lay at the root of democratic citizenship. If we all embraced such human virtues and patterns of relations, is there any social problem we couldnt solve, any challenge we couldnt surmount? Larry Dubbs was a true patriot, not the flag-waving kind, but the kind who loved his country and believed in its ideals. He lived his life according to those ideals. Larry Dubbs will be sorely missed, not only by all who knew him, but by an America that needs more like him.
Rest in peace my Red Dog friend. Thank you for all the good times and memories youve left me. As our friendship evolved from our teen years to those as senior citizens, my respect, admiration and affection for you only grew. You taught me to be more positive and giving, and less critical of human failings. You taught me the meaning of loyalty. You helped me re-connect with my past and with those with whom I share history. Thank you for all the unconditional love you gave to so many. Though your body is silent, your spirit lives on in everyone you touched. We will never forget you