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.