At 87, ‘disaster deacon’ opens his heart — and church — to flooding victims
TULSA, Okla. — Oh, Kenneth Hearrell has stories to tell.…
An Oklahoman known for sending hundreds of cards to encourage his church family and community died during record-breaking floods in the Sooner state.
Larry Larimore, 77, was a U.S. Navy veteran and a member of the Blackwell Church of Christ in northern Oklahoma. He went missing May 21 after he called his family about rising storm water. Rescue crews searched near a bridge submerged in water at U.S. 177 near Dry Road in Blackwell, about 100 miles north of Oklahoma City.
Larimore’s truck was recovered, and his body was found in a field May 23. Authorities believe he was swept away in the current of rising floodwaters as he exited his truck. (Read his obituary.)
Larimore and his wife, Rosemarie, were known for their card ministry, said Lanny Jobe, minister for the 140-member Blackwell church. After Rosemarie Larimore’s death in 2017, her husband continued the ministry.
“Everyone that was ever added to our church’s prayer list got a card,” Jobe told The Christian Chronicle in a message from Gallup, N.M., where he and fellow church members are serving on a mission trip. “Every church member got a birthday card and weekly encouragement cards. His tagline at the end was either ‘love you, take care!’ or ‘praying for you, take care!’
“He also mowed lawns for the elderly and veterans. He would taxi people that needed rides. He took care of our communion supplies and made sure communion was taken to shut-ins on Sundays. He helped track attendance of our church members and alerted us of anyone he knew that had been missing from services for a few weeks in a row. He could be seen at the back of the auditorium with his clipboard, checking people off that were here.”
During Larry Larimore’s funeral, “I asked for a show of hands of all who ever received cards from Larry on a regular basis,” Jobe said. “About 200 out of 220 raised their hands!”
Family members brought stacks of encouragement cards that the Larimores had stockpiled to the funeral and asked everyone in attendance to take a card and send it to someone.
Meanwhile, recipients of the couple’s kindness posted remembrances on social media.
“Larry was a good man who encouraged many,” Trisha Chaparala Iyonsi said in a Facebook post. “After my mother died he sent me a card every week for at least a year. His kind words and scriptures carried me through a very difficult time.”
Even after they moved away from Blackwell, former church members remembered Larry Larimore’s kindness.
“He was a great guy, always a firm handshake and a smile,” said former church member J.J. McMahon in a social media post. “(He) wrote us a card every week to say he was thinking of us and sending prayers our way. He touched our lives and made us smile each week with his cards. He will be missed, but, rest assured, he’s at his home in heaven now.”
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