Lawrence “Larry” Henry James

Lawrence (Larry) Henry James completed his journey in this physical world Saturday, May 16th at Neuvant House in Lawrence, Kansas at the age of 82- dying from natural causes.

Larry was born in Perryton Texas on March 29th 1938 to Floyd and Charlene (Rhode) James, soon moving to be raised with his two brothers in Lawrence, Kansas and to graduate from Lawrence High School in 1957. He went on to complete mechanical training at the Kansas City Trade School of Automotive in 1957 and Trade School of Automotive Diesel in 1958. Upon completing trade school he worked at the Caterpillar Tractor Company and the General Motors Assembly plant in Kansas City before beginning work in Lawrence as a Service Technician at Morgan Oldsmobile. Later he became parts manager for Parker Buick and finally joined Winter Chevrolet in 1961. At Winter Chevrolet he served as a parts clerk, parts manager, used car sales manager and ultimately purchasing and inventory manager. On minimal capital and maximum faith, he went on to found Larry’s Auto Supply Inc. located at 1502 W23rd Street in 1969 , which he owned and operated for 32 years- with a focus on providing automotive parts to garages, service stations and dealers, but also sold parts retail to the public. The business was very successful through an intentional strategy to remain small and “provide professional advice and personal service.” Larry treasured the relationships built through the years with customers and employees and felt incredibly blessed to own a business that served other people and met the needs of his family. He never wavered in his belief that Lawrence was a great place for a small business person to succeed. Always a champion of small business, he was awarded the Lawrence Small Business Person of the Month in May 1991. Larry sold the parts business in 2001, semi-retiring to a part-time position with the Douglas County Rural Water District #6, along with operating a small handy man service before fully retiring in 2013.

Larry married Mary Alice Speicher on August 22, 1958 in Lawrence, Kansas and they became the perfect representation of a team approach in both business and life. He loved her with every fiber of his being and was faithful to her in every way till the end. They built a small basement home on 40 acres near Lecompton, Kansas that grew through the years as did their family of three children. They spent their entire lives at this beloved property before moving to community living in 2017.

Larry cherished the outdoors, being on the water (especially Perry Lake), RVing, hot weather, spicy foods, quiet mornings, solitude, independence, privacy, fishing, growing grapes, wine making and all of life. He carried an invincible spirit & will with a quick wit, wicked sense of humor, and an insatiable desire to try and learn new things and develop new skills. He had deep faith in God, love for his family and other people which was motivated and underpinned with gratitude for all he had been “given.” He was a longtime member of Trinity Lutheran Church, First United Methodist Church, the Lawrence Free Masons, Sertoma Club and served on countless religious, social and professional boards. His wife, family, friends, and community will miss his optimism, his genuineness, his faith, his hope and mostly his love. The most frequent description of him the family has received from friends since announcing his death has been “He was a good man” and “he was one cool dude”…and that he was.

Survivors include his wife Mary Alice, Children Ronda (Jeff) Riner, Randy (Robyn) James and Rachelle Vigna. Seven grandchildren- Kevin (Emily) Riner, Eric (Kelli) Riner, Katie (Clarke) Fry, Kara (Chris) Day, Kylie James, Ashlyn Vigna, and Raelyn Vigna. Four great grandchildren- Oscar Riner, Brody Riner, Pierson Fry (James) and Juliette Fry (James).

Larry will be Lying-in state on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 from 8:00am – 6:00pm at Warren McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, Ks.

A private graveside service will held Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 2pm at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Lawrence Masonic Lodge #6 and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

29 Condolences

  1. George & Cheryl Hunsinger on May 17, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    Jeff and family, was sad to read this. The day he retired I started missing him. Miss his wit. wisdom, and knowledge. He was a fine person. You all are in our thoughts and prayers.

  2. Jack & Mel Coppoc on May 17, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Jeff and Ronda, we are so very sorry to hear of Larry’s passing. Please know you are all in our prayers. It’s hard losing a parent, hard losing a grandpa. We were blessed to have known Larry and know he will be greatly missed. Sending hugs.

  3. Lisa Currie on May 17, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Jeff & Ronda, I am so sorry for your loss!! Thinking of you and your family. Praying for you to have comfort! Your dad was such a kind man!! Lisa Currie

  4. Wayne and Bobbi Kellum on May 17, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    So very sorry for your loss. Love and prayers go out to you and the family!

  5. Shirley Anderson on May 17, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Ronda, Randy, Rachelle and families, I have so many wonderful memories of the times Larry, Mary, Dennis and I enjoyed visiting and sharing many delicious meals together. Their friendship was very special. You are in my thoughts and prayers. My love and hugs to each of you.

    Shirley Anderson

  6. Greg Howard on May 17, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    To each of you the Howards send their sympathy and their love. May you find comfort and peace in the many treasured memories you hold in your heart.
    All our love
    Greg and Carol Howard

  7. Tom Leach on May 17, 2020 at 11:37 pm

    Jeff and Ronda
    “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

    Tom and Valerie Leach

  8. Tom Leach on May 17, 2020 at 11:53 pm

    Jeff, Ronda, Rachelle and Family
    “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

    Tom and Valerie Leach

  9. Donald Creason on May 18, 2020 at 5:50 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss Rachelle
    Keeping you and your family in my prayers

  10. Ruth Sarna on May 18, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Rachelle—-so sorry to read about your Dad’s death! Hold on to happy memories! Will keep you and your family in thoughts and prayers! RUTH

  11. Lisa (Shores) Zemites on May 18, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Rachelle- We are sending lots of hugs and love your way. To all of you we send our thoughts and prayers. He was a great man. I will cherish all my fond memories of him.
    Love, Lisa & Mike Zemites

  12. Kay Hodge on May 18, 2020 at 8:31 am

    Mary: I am so sorry to hear of Larry passing. I know what you are going through. Your children will help you.

  13. Leigh, Ray, Sarah & Will Skowronski on May 18, 2020 at 8:45 am

    We were so very sorry to hear of Larry’s death. Words cannot ease the pain of losing a parent or grandparent but please know that we are keeping you all in our thoughts and in our hearts at this sad time.

  14. Jerry and Pat Pichette on May 18, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Sorry to hear of Larry’s death we have many good memories of times spent with Mary and Larry. Will miss seeing him when we are in Lawrence this summer

  15. Phillip & Gayle Vannicola on May 18, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Jeff & Ronda:
    You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. We enjoyed spending time with Larry and Mary when they’d come to the campgrounds to share a meal. There was always a lot of laughter and good times. Larry was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and Phillip and I feel blessed that we got to know him.

  16. Jack & Effie. on May 18, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Sorry for your loss. Good memories with Larry and Mary. Prayers and love.

  17. angela lenahan on May 18, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Sorry for your loss Rachelle.

  18. Rene Phillips on May 18, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    So sorry for your loss! My thoughts are with you all.

  19. Rhonda Banks on May 18, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    Ronda, Randy, Rachelle – my deepest sympathy in the loss of your dad; truly one of the good guys and a great life partner for Mary Alice. My prayers are with you all during this difficult time.

  20. Jeff and Phyllis Martin on May 18, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    Jeff and Phyllis Martin
    We will miss our great friend
    All I can say about Larry is that if you knew him you are a lucky person . He had that personality that very few are blessed with . Our prayers are with his family

  21. Karen Baker on May 19, 2020 at 1:11 am

    Rachelle, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know that your father was very much loved not only by your family but by many in the community. I know that my late husband always went to your dad’s auto parts store because it was a great store and he liked the way it was run.
    You’re in my thoughts.
    Karen McCoy Baker

  22. mike hadl on May 19, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Dear Mary and Family, so sorry for your loss…May he rest in peace….He was a hell of employer…Mike Hadl…

  23. Rick Foos on May 19, 2020 at 11:57 am

    So sorry for your loss. I remember when my children were young and Larry would drop off the plastic bottles to collect a sample from the rual water to be tested. They loved taking turns giving him the samples and it would put a smile on his face. He will be deeply missed. Thoughts and prayers to the entire James family.

  24. Rochelle Tramp on May 19, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    So sorry for your loss. When my boys were in Cub scouts, we would stop by the house and he would buy popcorn from them. I still have a bottle of wine he gave us that he had made. He will be dearly missed.
    Deepest sympathies,
    Rochelle Tramp , Todd ,Ethan and Drew Bradford

  25. Darin Hadl on May 19, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    Mary, Ronda, Rachelle, Randy and family, I’m so sorry for your loss. Larry was a great guy and employer. He took a chance on me and provided me with some good experience and knowledge for my future.

    Darin Hadl

  26. Curtis Wright on May 20, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    We have lost a good man, a friend , and a perfect helper in time of need for any parts needed as I was one of many who he helped while teaching at Haskell Indian Vocational department

  27. Jerri and Steve Howard on May 21, 2020 at 4:41 am

    Rhonda, Randy, Rachelle, sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing, may God bless all of you at your time of loss. All of you are in are thought’s and prayer’s.

  28. Louis and Phyllis Copt on May 21, 2020 at 8:35 am

    We will miss our great neighbor and friend. It was always fun to visit Larry and Mary and catch up on what was going on in our little corner of Lecompton. We loved talking about food and wine and enjoyed several bottles of his special vintage. Larry was always there to help us out, offer advice and share a laugh. His positive attitude was one of his greatest assets. We know your family will miss him and we will too.

  29. GREGORY W JAMES on June 10, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    He was good and decent man. I am his nephew (from brother Leslie) and I have nothing but good memories of him. We lived in different parts of the country, but crossed paths many times; I remember them all and cherish them all.
    Mary, R, R and R, I am truly sorry he is gone. You know it has to happen, but it hurts.
    I send my love to you all.

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