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Life Story / Obituary
Larry Durbin lived his life selflessly giving to others. A hardworking and successful farmer, he enjoyed raising a variety of livestock over the years supporting his family. There simply wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for each and every one of them. His greatest treasure was the time he spent with his family especially around the holidays. Larry will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered for his easy-going and loving personality.
In the year 1938, Orson Welles's radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds is broadcast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs held its Hollywood premiere, and the New England area was hit with a raging hurricane across the Atlantic Ocean. Orva and V. Adell (White) Durbin welcomed home their newborn son, Larry, on September 14th in Coloma, Michigan. Sandwiched between his three older siblings and the three youngest, he grew up sharing many memorable moments with each of them. He was known to be called “King” by his brothers.
Larry lived a typical childhood of the times. His father was a mechanic and his mother was a homemaker. Proud of his Irish heritage throughout his life, Larry loved to share stories of his early memories of his ancestors. As a young child, he was known to hide in the asparagus fields to avoid going to school. He and school were said to be like oil and vinegar as Larry would much prefer spending his time outdoors driving a tractor than sitting through his school lessons. From the tender age of twelve years old, he loved to work on area farms. When he was fifteen, he was involved in a serious accident on his Cushman Eagle motorcycle. Doctors were sure he’d never walk again, but with his perseverance, he managed to pull through. Despite his early rebuttals regarding school, he managed to successfully graduate from Decatur High School.
Not to be forgotten was meeting the woman of his dreams, Elaine, through a mutual friend. It took Larry three months to learn that her real name was Elaine as everyone called her Dee. Their dates consisted of going to the bowling alley or hanging out with other couples. They also enjoyed cruising the small town strips! Eager to settle down and start a family of their own, they joined in marriage on August 6, 1960, at the Lawton Baptist Church. Together they raised two wonderful children; Edward and Kathleen. As a father, he had a very hard time being the disciplinarian. Whenever they were in trouble, he’d often let them off the hook! His children were the light of his eye and the reason he spent so many long hours tending to his fields and farm animals in order to give them everything they needed over the years.
Second only to his family, farming was indeed his passion. He was born to raise pigs, Angus cattle, grow corn and hay as well as other crops. Accomplished and resourceful in his business he also grew his own feed for the animals. He once accidentally brought a rooster home from the feed mill as it unknowingly made its way into his truck. Larry was so taken with him though, he decided to keep him on the farm. Although he never liked cats growing up, he had plenty of barn cats over the years and enjoyed keeping them well fed. Elaine also enjoyed the farm but often Larry tried her patience. Once he asked her to stand in the open gate to help one of the pigs move toward the right chute. Instead, the pig ran right between her legs knocking her off her feet! They both were smitten with a baby deer they named Walter. He lived on the farm for roughly three years before one day he jumped the fence and ventured out on his own. When conditions were just right, Larry cherished sneaking away from the farm to treat the family to a trip to Michigan’s Adventure or Walhalla, but mostly the work was never over and he stayed on the farm ensuring things ran smoothly. When they lost everything in a house fire in 1980, he solicited the support of local friends and neighbors to help him rebuild. His positive outlook never allowed anything to break his spirit or bring him down.
Retirement afforded Larry the time to cherish his favorite pastimes. He took a keen interest in woodworking in his later years building many birdhouses. He looked forward to deer hunting season as well. Sometimes he left his favorite hunting spots on the farm for special places up north. Larry also had a knack for fixing up antique tractors. He had quite a collection over the years as well as several lawnmowers just in case one didn’t start! Spending time outdoors was where Larry was most content. Whether he was cutting grass, working on a repair, or watching another sunset over his property, he never took his many blessings for granted.
Known as one of the kindest people you were lucky enough to meet, Larry always put others first. He adored his family and was known by many children in the neighborhood as a grandfather figure. Candy lined his pockets and he was never without a funny story or joke to share. His own grandchildren were his number one priority. They’d race to climb into his lap and listen for the ticking of his special pocket watch. He made many special memories with them especially on Christmas Eve where he and Elaine hosted a wonderful celebration at their home over the past thirty-four years! Larry leaves behind a legacy of being honest and hardworking. May his many special loved ones be comforted in knowing that he loved each and every one of them unconditionally.
Larry Allen Durbin, age 80, of Decatur, Michigan died peacefully on January 26, 2019. Larry was preceded in death by his parents and his oldest brother, Richard Durbin. Surviving are his wonderful wife of fifty-eight years, Elaine; children; Edward H. (Aleasha Ashby) Durbin, Kathleen (Jerry) Fuentes; grandchildren; Jessica (James) Gibson, Kori Leighton, Sierra Durbin, and Serenity Durbin; Phoebe Fuentes and Ted Fuentes; many great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild; siblings; Donna Laskovy, Sue Coulter, Joyce (Ken) Chilla, Robert (Marie) Durbin, and Arthur (Kate) Durbin; sister-in-law and brother-in-law: Lorraine and Charles Drenth; and many nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. Visit with family and friends on Thursday, January 31st from 5 PM-7 PM at Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40 Hwy, Paw Paw (269) 657-3870 where services will be held Friday, February 1st, at 11 AM. A luncheon will follow at the Decatur VFW, 560 N Phelps St. Please visit Larry’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home.