|After a long struggle with pancreatic cancer, Larry passed quietly on March 3rd, 2002 at around 3pm. Dolly, Steve, Jason, and Dolly's wonderful Sisters and Mother were at his side. He had expressed to Dolly that he was ready to go.
Larry was very touched by the expressions of love and support he recieved. The generosity of his friends brought many tears of joy to his eyes. As always, Larry was humble and had a hard time accepting the gifts. We reminded him frequently that he would have done the same for any of us.
We miss you, Larry, but we are thankful that your pain and suffering are over.
Larry's memorial services were held on Wednesday, March 6th, 2002. It was a beautiful day...warm and clear. Over 300 people from all over North America attended to show their deep love and respect for Larry and to console his family. There were lots of tears and some wonderful, healing laughs, as Larry would have wanted it.
Heartfelt, memorable eulogies were delivered by David Baker (of Indiana University and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra) and Jared Rodin (free-lance trombonist/contractor). Both are close, long-term friends of the Wiseman family.
Larry is survived by his wife Dolly, Steve, Josie and Lia (his eldest son, daughter in-law and brand new grand daughter), Jason (his youngest son), and thousands of friends whose lives were enriched by his presence.
A Personal Note...
Larry meant so much to all of us, and there are so many stories about this great man that it is difficult to capsulize his life into a few phrases, but I need to share what he was (is) for me.
Larry was my mentor who lead by example and had unending patience with me as I made mistakes, grew and changed.
He was my dear friend,, and even though he was superior to me in so many ways (musically and personally), he always treated me (and everyone else) with utmost respect and kindness. When I would talk to him about the trials of my life, though trivial they have mostly been, he listened, empathized, and put a positive spin on every situation with a joke, a story or an encouraging word.
He was my protector and my advocate. He defended me from my own immaturity and from negative outside influences. He nudged me gently into situations that I felt were "over my head" and bolstered my belief in my abilities with his certain confidence that I would rise to the challenge.
Larry always made the best of every situation. Even the worst gigs were just another opportunity for him to play beautifully and keep a kind thought in his mind in spite of the music, setting or personnel.
Larry taught us what dedication really means. He once told me that he tried never to let an 8 hour period go by without practicing. That's 3 times a day, folks! Most of us do well to get around to it once. And, since Larry seldom rested, he didn't just theorize about his practice routine...he lived it. Many players recall Larry practicing in the bus at 4am while on the road. I recall Larry and I rooming together on a tour of Cats. We hung out one Friday night until about 2am and then crashed. At 7am I heard Larry stirring around the room. I awoke briefly and greeted him. He was visibly anxious and asked if he could use my practice mute. He began playing but became concerned that it was too loud, so he layed down on the floor and put his bell under the bed to stifle the sound further. The maniac just had to practice!
Larry was (and still is) on "every gig". Whether actually present or not, he was/is the center of musical (and humorous) attention. If Larry was on the gig we were laughing with him. If Larry wasn't on the gig we were talking about him...his great playing, his "punster" humor, his grace under fire.
His marriage to Dolly is the model I hold up for my own marriage, as the way to commit, the way to love and the way to be best friends.
Larry loved and supported his sons Steve and Jason. He had such pride in what fine men they turned out to be. How could they not with a primary example like Larry?
I am left gratified that I had Larry in my life, yet feeling hollow by his departure. A world that was made so much better by his presence is now somehow diminished by his absence.
I see Larry's smile through the blur of my tears.
I will always miss you, dear friend.