A shy, gentle soul with a vast intellect and a dry wit, Larry was a devoted husband, family guy and a one-man Ellis Island.
Born on his family’s 100-acre homestead June 19, 1926, in Addy, WA, Larry literally walked uphill both ways in the snow, carrying a metal pail of food, to a one-room schoolhouse.
After serving his country in the Navy with other patriots of the Greatest Generation in World War II, he and his father, Edward Leaf, ran the Addy Garage.
Larry went to college on the GI bill, beginning in engineering, ending instead with math and science degrees, which would take him to four continents to teach thousands of students in the DOD system.
After meeting a fellow world traveler in Germany, he married Faith, a gregarious Japanese-American from Hawai’i, who would be his wife of 40 years.
In 1974 they returned to Larry’s hometown to adopt and raise two Korean daughters, Grace and Anne.
He continued his teaching career in Chewelah until his retirement in the early ‘90s.
Career highlights include teaching geology in Iceland, science and math in Ethiopia and computer science in Chewelah just as the age of the personal computer was dawning.
Wanting to be closer to grand kids, he and Faith moved to North Spokane where he could also connect with fellow intellectuals at Whitworth, attending a variety of lectures throughout the city, occasionally giving one himself.
A hopeless audiophile, his music collection ranged from Swiss yodelers to Brahms to Abba.
Larry was a competitive Trivial Pursuit player, one time forcing his family to sit astounded as he answered 23 questions in a row, until he was finally derailed by the dreaded sports question.
He was a fierce Scrabble champ and a bowler.
He was dubbed the family “rock star” because of his enormous rock collection, accumulated from his years of hiking the globe.
His kids never knew that a garage was for parking cars, always assuming that’s where you kept boxes of rocks.
He thrilled family and friends alike when he polished and set pieces of his collection into one-of-a-kind pendants, rings or pins.
Until his recent fall, he taught students English at the Country Homes Christian Church Language School.
He was a safe harbor for newly transplanted refugees, immigrants and expats who needed to improve their English skills to make their way in their adopted homeland.
Larry is survived by his wife, his daughters, their husbands, brother Les, sister Barb (Leaf) Hanley, four grandkids, nieces, nephews and a community touched by his generosity of service and quiet compassion.
A memorial honoring this servant leader will be held Monday, January 14, 2 pm, at Country Homes Christian Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Country Homes Christian Church Language School.
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