When Larry died, the clouds wept all day. We also wept as we gathered around him and watched him take his final breath. Before he passed, he would open his eyes, make eye contact with each of us and then nod his head and close his eyes again. Even as he was passing, he was checking on us. That’s Larry…grouchy, curmudgeonly, and yet concerned about everyone. We haven’t quite figured out how we are all going to survive without him telling us how to do everything, but he has given us plenty of advice through the years. We like to call these wise words “Larry-isms.”
For example, there were two ways to do things: his way or the wrong way. He told us on numerous occasions we didn’t know bat shit from wild honey and even on the day he died when we told him we were taking care of things, he lucidly told us “well you’re doing a piss poor job.” Curmudgeonly. On the other hand, he was the first person to offer help. He was the first person to offer advice. He was the first person to say I love you. He made mistakes, as we all do. But he loved us.
Larry Winkleman Skeet was born on October 3, 1942 and grew up in Tonganoxie with his parents, Harry and Audrey and his two brothers, B.A and Bob. They lived a hard farm life growing up, like many kids at that time. Larry admitted the only reason he started playing sports was so that he could take a shower at school. Life wasn’t always easy, but playing sports shaped and nurtured his lifelong hobby….basketball. Larry played ball in high school when he wasn’t injured: Phog Allen worked on his knee at one point. He went to Emporia State University to play basketball, but will openly admit he preferred “other” things to his studies. There was a fun incident with some swans and a bow and arrow and then a not so fun trip to the Dean’s house. Playing basketball in college may not have worked out, but he didn’t let that stop him. He continued to play basketball (even sharing the court with Wilt Chamberlain during a city league basketball game). He loved all things basketball…talking about it, watching it, coaching it and above all else watching his children and grandchildren play. He was a lifelong dedicated KU Jayhawk fan.
The only thing he loved more than basketball was his family. The first time Cathy saw Larry was at an Abilene/Chapman football game in 1961. She was taken with his fiery red, curly hair. They officially met that same night through a mutual friend and were married in Abilene in 1963. Along came Bret in 1965 and then Bart in 1967. Eventually, they decided they wanted a little girl and adopted Belinda in 1973. The family lived many places including Oklahoma, Missouri and of course, Kansas, where they have lived in the same home since 1976.
Larry worked a variety of jobs throughout his life including numerous positions at Ford Dealerships in Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas and construction. He found his calling, however, in 1978 when he joined the Franklin County Sheriff's Department as a jailer. Over the 17 years he worked at the Sheriff’s Office he worked his way up to Detective Lieutenant and retired from the department in 1995. After his retirement he worked cattle and was a paraprofessional and in-school suspension supervisor at Ottawa High School. Eventually, Larry and Cathy opened Our House Runneth Over Antiques in Ottawa, fulfilling Cathy’s dream of owning an antique shop.
Larry leaves quite a legacy behind, full of kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, a beautiful home and his wife Cathy of 58 years. Bret and Jill (North Kingstown, Rhode Island) have two daughters, Alaina (Matt) and Bailey (Garrett). Bart and Lori (Lane, Kansas) have three sons, Beau (Alix), Sam (Kasey) and Alex. Belinda and Ben (Topeka, Kansas) have three children, Kennedy, Ben (Taylor) and Chloe. Larry and Cathy are blessed to have six great-grandchildren: Hunter, Holly, Wyatt, Lily, Aaron and Walker. Larry’s best days were spent with his family and we cherish our time together with him. His last wish was that his children all get along. It’s a big ask, but we promise to do our best. You all have our permission to hold us to that.
In Larry’s memory, please join us for a Celebration of Life on March 26th at Princeton Community Building from 4-6 PM. Wear your favorite KU gear or red and blue. If you’re a K-State fan, wear your purple. Larry always did love a little friendly competition and he knows who will win anyway. Please come with a story to tell about Larry. One of his favorite things to do was sit around our kitchen table and talk about the good old days, especially all the crazy times he had at the Sheriff’s Office. We are sure he is telling stories with all his coffee club buddies from his law enforcement days right this minute at the Subway Restaurant in the sky. We would love to hear your stories as well.
Donations can be made in Larry’s honor by stopping by Our House Runneth Over Antiques to purchase a gift for your loved one, gifting the purchase of a winning lottery ticket (only slightly kidding), or for those of you more traditional people, please make a donation to a memorial fund in Larry’s name through Lamb-Roberts-Price Funeral Home.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Larry. We love you and will miss you.