Monday, July 21, 2014

Reflections on Larry Jeane

Yesterday I received the heartbreaking news that my friend, Pineville City Marshal Larry Jeane, had died due to complications resulting from a car accident on Friday. It was a horrible shock as just the day before the doctors were saying that he was stable, had done very well in the surgeries to repair his broken leg and multiple lacerations. We were preparing for a long road of recovery. But the trauma to his body was just too much and Sunday afternoon he passed away. Larry was a dear friend and his death truly is a shock and a tremendous loss, both personally and to our entire community.

I was contacted by our local paper, The Town Talk, to give some reflections on Larry, which I gladly did. However, knowing the constraints of the newspaper and that they will probably only be able to use a sentence or two of what I wrote, I wanted to share my email to the Town Talk with you as my personal tribute to Larry:

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Hi Jodi,

Thanks for allowing me to share some thoughts on my friendship with Larry Jeane. It's so hard to summarize a 30+ year friendship in a couple of sentences. Let me give you a few highlights and then, hopefully, a couple of comments that you might could use in the article.

I met Larry in 1983 when he was warden of WTFN (Work Training Facility North). I had just graduated high school and was working with a prison ministry called "Prison Invasion" which was a nationwide effort to bring laypeople into prisons for one-on-one contact with prisoners over a weekend. I called to set up an appointment with Larry and when I showed up he says he asked his assistant warden where this little boy's daddy was. :) He took an instant liking to me and allowed me to minister on a regular basis in his prison until I moved to Texas to go to missionary training school and then to Mexico to serve as a missionary.

After I returned from Mexico in the early 90's we reconnected as he was the director of Handi-Works Productions which provided jobs for the mentally challenged. He always had a soft spot for people with challenges.

I was a part of a group of ministers who met at McDonald's every week (we jokingly referred to ourselves as the "McMinisters" and Larry started meeting with us on a regular basis. He always had a joke or story to tell that left us in stitches. He was an honorary "McMinister" and was well loved by all the ministers for his willingness to help out any worthy cause.

Our church has an annual celebration each March which includes dinner on the grounds. Larry has cooked the meat for that meal for us for so many years, I can't remember when he didn't do it. We purchased  the meat but he always refused payment, even though he would often be up all night watching the pit.

In 2003 we started working with an orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico. Larry cooked a BBQ fundraiser for us to help start the ministry and has helped in so many ways over the years. He's cooked so many meals for non-profit groups, senior groups, LC football, other groups ... I doubt there's a person in Central Louisiana who hasn't eaten a chicken cooked by Larry, whether they know it or not!

Another cause that Larry was passionate about was helping Wounded War Veterans. He helped establish an entity that provides assistance to wounded war veterans where 100% of the donations go to the veterans. He did the fundraising himself (again, cooking MANY chickens), twisted arms for in-kind donations, and was passionate about advocating for our returning wounded soldiers. 

Larry was a personal friend who lived only a block away. He sometimes rode his mule to the house and let my daughters ride with him. One day he saw that we had a couple of orange leather chairs in the garage that my wife's father had given her. (He told us they were elephant hide.) Larry, being the LC fanatic that he was, just HAD to have those chairs as they were so unique, so he traded us a pistol for them. He wouldn't take them as a gift.

Larry's love for LC and pride in the institution is the reason the City Marshal's color scheme for vehicles, uniforms, etc, is blue and orange. Larry also had his El Camino painted in those distinctive colors with a menacing Wildcat on the tailgate. That was his pride and joy.

Larry loved music, especially country music, and he taught himself to play the guitar. He also wrote a few songs and they were very good. Somewhere along the line he acquired a "banjitar" which is a banjo body with a guitar neck, allowing a guitar player to sound like a banjo player. He loaned that to my dad about a decade ago and always loved to hear my dad play it. My dad recently returned it to him, over his objections, because my father bought his own and said Larry's children should have that instrument one day. I didn't know it would be so soon.

Hopefully that gives you a little background on my friend, Larry. There's so much more I could say about him but I wanted to give you some color or background to balance out the press release or eulogy. If I could give you a quote that I'd love you to use, it's this: Larry was a larger than life friend who cared for his community and made our world a better place. There is a huge vacuum in our hearts that will not be easily filled.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts about my friend, Larry Jeane.

Blessings,
Nathan

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There you have it. My friend, Larry Jeane, will be horribly missed. My prayers are with his wife, Johanne and their children, Paul and Joan and the whole family. As much as my heart hurts, I can't imagine the pain they are experiencing. Please keep them in your prayers. Thank you, "Big Brother," for being my friend.

Sincerely,
Nathan
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