July 11, 1946 - January 31, 2024
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Lawrence Edward Whitney
July 11, 1946- January 31, 2024
On January 31st, Lawrence “Larry” Whitney left on a jet plane to climb that Stairway to Heaven in the sky. Larry was greeted by his mother Dorothy, father Bob, wife Debbie and daughter Sara who arrived before him. Left behind is his daughter Cari, grandaughters Savannah, Kaylee and Sara and great-grandaughter May, and ex-wife and friend, Susie; dear cousin Pegge as well as the many dear friends he loved and kept close throughout his amazing life.
Larry was born in Conneticut but as a young child he moved to Rockledge, Florida. He would tell you he was a “Florida Cracker” and lived here until his passing. Larry attended central junior high school and graduated from Satellite High School (Sting em’ Scorps) first graduating class in 1964. It was there living beachside where he learned to surf and thrived in the water and on the beaches through his adult life sharing that love with his daughters and teaching his grandaughter Savannah how to surf. After marrying and having children you could find them all at the beach from sun up to sun down enjoying Sundays together in the water and listening to the band playing at the Beach Shack.
After high school Larry was drafted into the Army where he spent some time in Germany before being sent to Vietnam. Dad would tell you “Germany was fantastic but then they had to ruin it and send me to Vietnam”. During Vietnam Dad was a part of 1st Calvary division and was a dog handler of Scout dogs. Dad loved all of his dogs, his first,Toby, always had an extra special place in his heart and throughout his life it was apparent the heart ache he carried over the losses of his canine heroes as well as his comrads. A hospice volunteer who spent a bit if time with Larry in his last months would visit with her dog and sweetly stated “I hope there was a bottleneck of dad’s dogs waiting for him at the rainbow Bridge, with Toby leading the pack” and I am sure that there was. If you have ever lost a dog rest assured they are safe now with Larry!
After returning home from Vietnam and being disheartened by the way the country greeted them upon their return, Larry set off on numerous adventures to find his place in the world. First stop, the Florida Keys. Back to the ocean and flip flops. Street parties with Jimmy Buffett playing shows in the streets of A1A. He remembered these days fondly and it seemed there was always some Jimmy playing in the background of his life up until his last breaths. While in the keys he became a commercial fisherman and while it wasn’t his favorite job he loved the extra money he could make diving to untangle the nets! Wasn’t exactly a sought after job in shark infested waters but hey, it was an extra hundred bucks!
Moving on to Atlanta Georgia where the southern rock scene was booming! Larry was in his element soaking in the music and earning his spending money selling the underground hippie newspaper The Speckled Bird on the street corners and in the local bars.
Next stop California. LA in particular, music scene was top notch but Larry didn’t dig that city life and took to the Mojave desert. Riding motorcycles, catching and selling jumping spiders for the university and tending bar while returning home to his tent. Friends tell stories of local miners coming in for a drink and not having money for a beer. No money? No problem. Leave a colorful stone from the mines in his jar and the drink is on him! Larry was that kind of man. Fun, kind and giving. No matter who or where you came from.
In 1978 , after finally settling for a little while in Tennessee he met Susan, married her and moved back to Florida building a home in Palm bay with his hands and the help of friends that would be home until this year. Many years of barbecues, burnt hotdogs and memories were made in that home. Larry also lived with his 2nd wife Deborah in this home for almost 20 years until her passing in 2021. Deborah and Larry loved thrifting and visiting the Keys as well as spending time with their grandchildren.
Larry’s grandchildren were the lights of his life and he never missed a moment with them. Whether it was band concerts, soccer games and practices, awards ceremonies, graduations, impromptu musical appreciation and movie moments, he was always there.
A common theme to the different chapters in Larry’s life was music. Although he never played an instrument music was instrumental in every part of his life and he loved it all. As his daughter growing up in the 80s my dad was the coolest. Dad was the guy who took stood in line to get me the best concert tickets, every Friday night date night at Tape deck to pick out a new cassette for my collection to listen to together and hours upon hours of introducing me to the coolest stuff. Although that black sabbath album at the age of 6 was a bit terrifying, Ozzy later became one of our favorites. Larry retired after 40 years of being a real estate land broker in Palm bay. No matter what time of day, when you walked into that office the greatest “mix tapes” of all time were sure to be playing. To this day his grandaughters fight over those mix tapes and he and I listened to them in his last hours together.
After retirement you could always see Dad at the fleamarket every weekend selling boots or whatever interesting thing he found while thrifting. Larry loved talking to people and making friends with the patrons.
I could go on and on talking about my dad Larry. Truly, he was the best example of what a man, husband, father and grandfather, friend and neighbor should be. As a father, I can say with every bit of my heart that he was my best friend. The example of unconditional love. No matter what I did or how many times I screwed up he was always there. Never a judgmental word, always hopeful and inspiring and never making me feel any less than completely loved and cherished. I say that from both my sister and I. Dad, I have had you to myself for so long, you always were there even until the end making sure I’m ok and now Sara needs you and I am so glad she is there waiting for you until I see all of you again. There is definitely a party in heaven and just know until I can join you I will be ok. It’s my job now to make sure everyone is OK. And though nobody can do it better than you I will do my best.
Thank you for making such a beautiful imprint on your grandaughters lives and teaching them about love, music, books, and banana pancakes. But mostly for the example of how to show love and how you should be loved.
If anyone wants to pay tribute to dad please take a walk on the beach, paddle out to the horizon, take the long scenic route home, play the soundtrack of your life and share it with others. Go to that show. Check out that thrift store just one more time because you may have missed something and as he always told me remember that hope always springs eternal and never give up.
There will be a private memorance at a later date for family as Dad wasn’t the type for funerals. But if you would like to donate in his name please do so to Alzheimers Foundation or veterans cause of your choice.
I love you Dad
“If you miss me, I’ll be there
To brush the sunlight from your hair
I’ll be there to guide you, when trouble walks beside you
If you need me, I’ll be there
And when this dirty world, has been cold to you
I got two strong arms, oh waitin’ to hold you
And when those mean days come along
We’ll stand together and we’ll take ’em on
So if you need me, just call my name”