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Larry Walker 1951-2010
Captain, Father, Santa
December 3, 2010

he news came as a shock to Oriental Thursday afternoon. Captain Larry Walker had been diving in Tortola in the morning and suffered what appears to have been a heart attack. Efforts to revive him failed. He was 59.

Captain Larry Walker at the opening of the Bow To Stern Youth Sailing Camp in June of 2008.

Larry Walker was a larger than life figure in virtually everything he did, whether he was running a successful business, channeling Santa in Oriental’s Spirit of Christmas celebration, or officiating at over 50 weddings. Friends are recalling a man who was spirited and generous.

Larry Walker, in his Santa mode, with Bora Staub last Christmas season. On Larry’s passing, Bora’s father Don said, “You know that any time a red Chrysler Le Baron goes by, people are going to hope that this was just a bad dream.” (Photo from Staub family collection.)

Larry moved to Oriental from New Jersey twelve years ago. After coming to town he tried to develop some real estate, then worked for a boat broker. Ultimately, he became a teacher.

Nine years ago, he set up World Wide Marine Training school to train boat captains for their licensing tests. In the first years, he based the business out of what had been Red Lee’s Grill, at the corner of Broad and North Streets. Then he bought a building and moved the business a few miles west of town on Hiway 55. World Wide Marine thrived, employing several teachers besides Larry.

A familiar sight in Oriental, in effect, a Christmas parade all year. Larry Walker rode through town often in his red convertible, top down. It was the rare weather system that made him put up the roof. Here he is after the snow this past February, in front of the Town Dock. (Photo by John Phillips)

Many of the classes were held here in Oriental, but Larry also traveled to other states — such as New York, Missouri, Illinois — to offer the courses. Joe DeSherlia took the course six years ago in Illinois. He became a friend of Larry’s and was in Tortola, diving with him Thursday when Larry suffered his apparent heart attack. In an interview a few hours later, he said that Larry “made friends with everybody.”

Captain Larry Walker. He was a captain of the sea and was also in demand to officiate at weddings. This photo is from a ceremony he performed in May. A friend says Larry recently told her that he’d performed 50 wedding ceremonies in the past decade.(Photo from collection of Mary Norman)

While many students came from away to take the course, area residents also attended Larry’s classes. “He was a great instructor,” says Roger Cordes, noting that Larry made things clear and adjusted to the learning abilities of those in the room.

Roger says though they differed politically — Larry wasn’t shy about sharing his conservative views — “he was a good-hearted person.” As happened often Thursday, the word “generous” came up to describe Larry.

“He was a good old Southern gentleman,” says Georgie Powell. “A good old Southern gentleman from New Jersey. I loved him.”

His first few years in town, Larry rented a place from Georgie. She also cut Larry’s hair for years and says he’d been in her Broad Street shop less than a week ago. “I just permed his hair Friday to be Santa.”

Must Be Larry

Santa. The role he would be best known for was one he was about to play again next Saturday. In Oriental’s Spirit of Christmas celebration, Larry Walker was the very embodiment of Santa Claus, with the real white beard and his ever-upbeat presence.

Santa/Larry Walker at the 2009 Spirit of Christmas celebration, here, inside Oriental’s Old Theater.

On Spirit of Christmas Saturday Santa Larry would ride around town in a small car that emphasized his bearing even more, his voice a chuckle as he wished anyone in view a Merry Christmas. He would then visit with the crowd of kids inside the Old Theater. After that it was off to the parade, which he took part in from the bow of the Hobucken Coast Guard’s orange inflatable, calling out to individuals he spied on the parade route.

Larry Walker in last year’s Spirit of Christmas parade, as Santa made his way down Hodges Street in the Coast Guard inflatable craft.

Jack Coulter says that that aside from serving in the US Navy (1969-1973) the other highlight in Larry’s life was “being Santa Claus for the kids of Pamlico County. He absolutely loved seeing the Christmas magic in children’s eyes. We always joked with him that he had convinced himself he really was Santa!”

Becky Ackiss says it was something more than his appearance that made Larry fit for that role “He was such a generous man. It wasn’t his beard and red suit that made Larry the real Santa Claus. It was his heart.”


Captain Larry: Fifty Couples Married

In fall of 2000, Candy Bohmert says she wanted Larry to perform the service at her wedding. Thing was, under North Carolina law, being a boat captain alone doesn’t allow one to officiate at a wedding. But as Candy learned, the law did allow an ordained minister to appoint someone so that they could carry out the service. Candy says her husband Greg had fixed the boat of a minister who was happy to help.

Greg and Candy Bohmert’s wedding on October 10, 2000, was the first one Larry performed. A week later Larry was at it again, officiating at the nuptials of Turtle and Robin Midyette. Candy says Larry recently told her that he’d conducted at least 50 weddings in the past decade.

In June 2003, Larry officiated at the wedding of Tim Rogers and Janet Alexander at the Stallings House.

One of those weddings — in 2002 — was for the minister who gave Larry his marrying papers. It was a special wedding for the Reverend Jim Newby, as he was remarrying his wife, Elizabeth from whom he’d been divorced for 6 years. Jim Newby says they married on the dock of their house on Smith Creek. A minister in Oklahoma City, he says news of Larry’s death “has been like a fist in my stomach, and I am not ashamed to say that I have shed many tears.”

This fall’s wedding of Ben Chapin and Amy Tingle was one of the last ones — if not the last one — for Captain Larry Walker. (Photo: Wilma Kennedy)

Larry officiated onboard “Oriental Express” at the wedding of Greg & Candy Bohmert. At right Larry with the bride after the ceremony. (Photo from collection of Greg and Candy Bohmert.)

Larry’s involvement in the town ran beyond the weddings, and Santa visits and the captain’s school. A few years ago, he organized a boat show in Oriental’s harbor, towing in some portable docks that he owned. That show was the precursor to the one now held in Pecan Grove Marina.

Larry was also in demand as an emcee at a number of events. One standing gig was at M&M Restaurant’s weekly Music Night, a guess-the-artist name-that-tune event. Roger Cordes recalled that Larry “was a huge fan of old 50’s and 60’s music. Of love songs.” When someone played some 70’s rock, “he would say, ‘That’s too new.’” Given the opportunity to sing himself, Paul Del Rio suggests Larry could out-Elvis Elvis.

At this writing, no funeral arrangements have been made public.

Paul Fairbank, who puts together the Spirit of Christmas parade on December 11 says that Santa will be part of the parade, despite Larry Walker’s passing. Charlie Garrett had a Santa suit for another appearance and offered to fill in for Larry.

Meanwhile, Candy Bohmert, in her capacity as a Spirit of Christmas organizer, says that the parade may pay tribute to Larry in some manner, perhaps getting his car to pull his boat – empty – down the parade route.

Larry Walker at the 2009 Tarpon Tournament with two of the volunteer observers. As his friend and colleague Paul Del Rio put it, “How fragile life is.”


Captain Larry Walker Remembered By Friends in Oriental & Beyond.

From Jack Coulter:

He absolutely fell in love with the town and its people.
The two highlights in Larry’s life were the four years he spent serving honorably in the US Navy, serving aboard the USS Nashville: and being Santa Claus for the kids of Pamlico County. He absolutely loved seeing the Christmas magic in children’s eyes. We always joked with him that he had convinced himself he really was Santa!

He had a true passion for anything nautical and immersed himself in his complete knowledge of seamanship; He started his very successful Captains License School, Worldwide Marine Training 9 years ago. His first classroom was in the now current Errands Plus building, later moving to the expansive school on H’way 55. He taught his class in eight different locations in NC and numerous states throughout the U.S. Literally hundreds of mariners rec’d their captain’s license through Larry’s efforts.

Oriental lost a true treasure.

Marsha Shirk sent this:

Larry Walker was a frequent if not daily customer at M&M’s cafe while I was the owner. I never, ever saw him grumpy or mean spirited. He tried his best to help everyone have a happier disposition. He could talk to anyone and had a wealth of information about everything stored up in his head.

One of my favorite stories about Larry is that when he would be eating at the Cafe he often was mistaken for Santa Claus. It was a lot of fun watching the stir he would cause with the little
kids. If he was asked about being Santa, he would answer them with all sincerity that he wasn’t. “But”, he would say, “I am his cousin and we look a lot alike and I’ve got connections if you need me to tell him anything.”

The kids were always awed. So was I.

It sure wasn’t hard for him to fill that red suit. He definitely was a “ jolly old soul”.

From Don and Kathie Mau:

December 2007 was a tough time for our family. My son and his wife had separated and he and the children were spending the holidays at our house in Oriental.

It was Christmas Eve, the children were 2 and 4 years old……this was their first Christmas the family was not together…..and we were doing everything we could to make it a grand affair for them.

At about 8:00 p.m., after the children were in the pj’s and we were letting them wind down to prepare for bed, there was a knock at our front door.

The personal touch. Santa pays a personal visit to Don and Kathie Mau’s grandchildren on Christmas Eve 2007.(Photo from Mau Family Collection)

In walked Sandy Winfrey (who knew we had the kids and my son here) and said he had brought a visitor with him and wanted to be sure it was OK.

Standing outside my door, dressed in red and fur from his head to his toes…..with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face as large as the world! It was Santa….who on such a busy night, had taken the time to dress and visit at MY house.

The kids were mesmerized, and we were all so grateful for his visit.

Sometimes Santa doesn’t come by Coast Guard boat but in a friend’s Jeep. Larry Walker and Sandy Winfrey from Christmas Eve 2007 outside Don and Kathie Mau’s house. A very personal visit by Santa helped ease what could have been a trying Christmas. (Photo: Mau Family Collection)

Memories of things that Larry just did….no questions…he just did. Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus, in the hearts and minds of everyone in Oriental.

From Becky Ackiss:

Larry was very special to the community band. The times that we got him to serve as our announcer for our concerts, he actually thanked me for the opportunity and he never stopped telling me that Pamlico Community Band was his favorite band. When I turned around from the podium to bow during concerts, Larry was always on the front row smiling back at me and applauding.

Larry Walker in a performance at the opening hours of this July’s Croakerfest, dressed in a Navy work shirt. He served in the US Navy from 1969-1973.
In the fall of 2008, he came to the band concert so excited to tell us he’d obtained the original conductor’s score to the piece of music used at the dedication of the ‘USS Nashville,’ the ship he served on during his service. It had not been played since then and he wanted us to play it. I told him we would need parts written out for each of our individual instruments, so two years later, he managed to find one of his students at Worldwide Marine Training who was a conductor and who was able to write out all the parts on his computer. We were planning to perform the piece at our March 2011 concert and he was inviting all his Navy buddies to the concert. Only Larry would have worked so hard to make that happen. He was such a generous man. It wasn’t his beard and red suit that made Larry the real Santa Claus. It was his heart.
From Oklahoma City, the Reverend Dr. Jim Newby, senior minister of the Church of The Savior, sent this memory:

I have known Larry from the time he moved to Oriental in 1998…I met him at the bar at M and M’s. I purchased a home on Smith Creek the year before, and would find my way down to Oriental about 4 times per year.

As a minister, Larry and I hit it off immediately. He had a very inquisitive mind about things religious, or should I say spiritual, because Larry was not a typical church-going religious person. Larry had never met a minister who was comfortable having a beer with him, and who, like him, was open to all of the mysteries that surround things spiritual.

I was a friend of M. Scott Peck, the author of “The Road Less Traveled,” which Larry had read, as well as Deepak Chopra, who was a guest at my church in Minnesota. When Dr. Chopra and Rabbi Kushner (author of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”) came to my church the same week, Larry came to visit. He loved the process of spiritual seeking and questioning, and really enjoyed the presentations by Chopra and Kushner. Just this past October Larry called me and we talked for about 2 hours concerning things spiritual…

He was always the first one I would called when I was planning a trip to Oriental, and he would always turn on the heat or air, and the lights in our home to await our arrival.

I just spoke with Larry on Thanksgiving Day as he made his way between stops at the homes of friends who had invited him over. Since we rented our home last summer, we were making plans to stay with him over New Year’s. Although we disagreed politically on many issues, I still loved the man, and will miss him dearly. The news of his death has been like a fist in my stomach, and I am not ashamed to say that I have shed many tears…

From Don Staub:

What a great guy. What a great loss.

There are optimistic, gregarious people…then there is Larry Walker. He was one of the reasons that people become so enamored with Oriental. “The people around here are so friendly,” is a common refrain one hears from visitors. Larry was the one leading the charge in friendliness.

If the Coast Guard boat comes down the parade route at the Spirit of Xmas, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

Laurie Sampson, who taught sailing at Oriental’s Bow to Stern Youth Sailing School last summer, is now in the British Virgin Islands, and saw Larry on Tuesday of this week.

Two days ago I was sharing drinks on the beach at the Pirate’s Bight on Norman Island in the BVI with Larry. A cruising friend that I met in 2007 whose name is Johnny Walker joined us. Larry had a brother by the same name and they hit it off. It was delightful sharing stories and enjoying life together.

Larry Walker in June 2008 helping to dedicate the fleet of Optimists used in the Bow To Stern Youth Sailing program.

How tragic that two days later Larry’s life was over. I can report that he was having a wonderful time living life. We should all be so lucky. I know he will be missed. I am glad he was a brief part of my life. May he rest in peace.

From Mary Norman:

My parents have owned a house in Oriental for the past ten years. Capt. Larry was dear to my whole family. He and my father Gordon Pickett were sailing and boating buddies; he also taught my father in Captain’s License classes. He was Santa for 6-year-old nephew, every year of his life.

Captain Larry performs the ceremony at Mary and Rob Norman’s wedding this past May. ((Photo from Mary Norman)

Most importantly to me, he preformed the marriage ceremony for my husband and me on May 15, 2010. He was truly an extraordinarily giving man and a truly wonderful person. I cannot express the loss that I feel for this great man. My entire family mourns that loss of a dear friend. I have attached some of my wedding photos with Capt. Larry. Please feel free to share these photos and memories to honor this special man.

Paul Del Rio sent in these memories:

Captain Larry was more than just an acquaintance to all of us in our community. Having worked with him as one of his instructors at World Wide Marine Training for the last several years has been a real high point in my life. He was my mentor, teacher, coach and foremost, my friend. Larry has been the quintessential mariner in our maritime community of Oriental. His selfless dedication to maritime education and safe boating practices run deep within us all.

There was also a side of Larry that a few of his friends caught a glimpse of aside from his real life Santa persona. Larry could sing Elvis better than the King himself.. To hear; “Wise men say, only fools rush in…” made us all pay attention, and when he would sing “Can’t help Falling In Love With You” we all did. We will all miss you, Captain Larry.

More tributes to Larry Walker have been coming in…


The US Navy ship Huntington that both Larry Walker and Oriental resident Joe Valinoti served on in the 1970s – this photo taken in New York Harbor in 1977. (Photo from Joe Valinoti.)

Joe Valinoti writes:

I was honored to have known Larry these past 11 years. Larry served on two ships that I know of, the destroyer USS Robert K. Huntington and the amphibious landing ship USS Nashville. His official US Navy title of Hull Technician 2nd Class would see him taking care of the ships watertight integrity and fire fighting.

I served on the Huntington during the same time period as Larry although out duties were in different departments and we did not know each other. He in engineering and mine in operations. We did not realize this until one night while having a beer after a Rotary Club meeting when we talked about our naval careers.

I will sorely miss running into him in Oriental and having him yell out “Hey Shipmate”.

Joe Valinoti CPO
USNR (Ret.)

From Athens, Illinois, Richard Mann sent these memories:

Larry Walker was my shipmate aboard the USS Nashville in 1971 & 1972. He was the first sailor to greet me as I arrived on board and quickly became one of my best friends. Our friendship continued through our Navy years, even after he transferred off the Nashville to a somewhat “landlocked” destroyer stationed in northern New Jersey. His buddies and I razzed him about that transfer every time we’d see him, even into civilian life. I guess a guy will do anything for the “glory of love”.

The two former shipmates, Larry Walker and Rich Mann. This photo was taken, Rich Mann says, “in the old ‘DC shop’ where we both worked back in the day.” (Photo from Rich Mann collection.)

In 2005 it was Larry who organized our Nashville “First Watch” reunion, bringing all the old Navy buddies from Nashville’s commissioning and early service days, back together again in Norfolk, VA. We had a great time and renewed friendships that will be life long now. Though he will not be with us in body, his spirit will never pass beneath the way.

Larry and his former shipmate Rich Mann in front of the USS Nashville in August 2006 while the vessel was undergoing repairs at Norfolk Naval Shipyards. They stopped there while cruising the ICW on “Glory Days”. (Photo from Rich Mann collection.)

I had the pleasure of spending time with Larry in Oriental in 2006, where we cruised the Pamlico Sound and ICW together aboard “Glory Days”. We got together as often as possible in Grafton, IL (one of the places where Larry conducted his World Wide Marine Training courses. Ed.) and always had a “hoot” of a time. Larry was gifted in may ways but his ability to bring people together was something to behold. He made you feel good just to be there.

Larry was my friend.

Richard A. Mann
Damage Controlman Petty Officer 2nd Class – USN
USS Nashville, 1971-72.

Gordon Pickett follows up on the words of his daughter, Mary Norman, who mentioned her 6-year old nephew:

That’s our grandson Gabe. I don’t know what I’m going to tell him next week about Santa’s absence. He has been to the Spirit of Christmas and the Croaker festival every year of his life. His birthday is July 1st, and for the first few years, he thought Oriental threw a big birthday party for him. And the Spirit of Christmas is even more special because he got to talk to the “real” Santa Claus.

Larry would call Gabe by name when he saw him on the street before or after the parade, and since Larry and I were good friends, I would prep him with details, like what Santa gave Gabe last Christmas. During these discussions, Gabe’s eyes were the size of dinner plates. Just magical.

Gordon Pickett’s grandson Gabe with his “real Santa” at the 2008 Spirit of Christmas.(Photo from Pickett Family collection.)

Last year Larry missed Gabe in the crowd during the parade, but spotted him from down the street and called his name. Gabe ran down the street and nearly jumped in the boat with Santa.

His parents took him to the big Raleigh Christmas parade once, but Gabe wanted to leave since he doesn’t consider it a real parade; you can’t sit on the curb with no one in front of you, there’s lots of pushing shoving, they don’t throw candy, and they don’t have the real Santa.

Everyone is going to miss Larry in their own very personal way, because Larry affected each of our lives in such a special way; we’re grieving as a family, as a village, and as individuals. There’s a huge hole that will grow smaller over time but never close completely, and Christmas will never be the same. At least we all have some priceless memories.

Lisa Kelly taught drama at Pamlico High School a few years ago. She now lives in Chicago.

I have many memories of Captain Larry that I will treasure; talks at the Tiki Bar, bonfires and pork roll sandwiches at his house, karaoke nights, and, of course, driving Santa around in the red convertible the year I got to be the # 1 Elf.

Just last month he called me out of the blue because he had heard that I was sailing in a charity regatta in Chicago and he wanted to contribute something. It was so nice to hear his voice and to catch up on Oriental news.

The main thing I remember, though, is his support of the students in Pamlico County. I don’t think he ever missed a play we put on, either at the Old Theatre or at the high school, and he always helped with publicity, inviting my students to perform at Rotary Club meetings, selling tickets himself, and even creating and printing posters free of charge.

He once showed me his stack of programs. He had kept every program from every show he had been to for years, and each one was just as important, from a sleek Broadway playbill, to a hand-printed high school show bulletin. He usually asked the high school performers to autograph his program too, making them feel like stars. He really encouraged them to believe in themselves.

Lisa Kelly
Chicago, IL

From Greenville, former resident Amy Moore remembers Larry:

My name is Amy Moore. My husband Steve, my children and I lived in Oriental for a short time, from 2001-2003. We now live in Greenville, but visit Oriental and my children look forward to the Christmas parade each year.

I first met Larry while I was waiting tables at M&M’s when it was still owned by Marsha and Dave. He was always such a nice and gentle person. My children and I were privileged to live on the same street as he did for a while.

My children were very young when we lived in Oriental, so some of their memories have faded from that time but they recognized Larry as the man who plays Santa in the parade. The kids remember seeing Santa get into his red convertible and ride around town. They have memories of meeting him in his Santa suit, and seeing him in the parades.

Oriental has lost a treasure. I am sad to hear of his passing and thank him for the memories he has provided me and my family. Rest in peace, Larry.

Larry as Santa had an impact not only on the youngest children, but adults, too. Ken Stickrath writes from his boat in Abaco.

We are truly saddened by Larry’s passing. I have to relate a story from our son, Eric, not long after he had moved to Oriental. Then as now we were on our boat in the Bahamas and Eric was alone for the annual Christmas parade. He was feeling kind of sad.

But a year later and Christmas parade time came again it was a different story. He told us that you knew you had “arrived” in Oriental when Captain Larry waved at you from his position as Santa Claus atop the fire truck and most importantly — called you by name. And Larry waved and said “Hello, Eric” as the truck passed by.

Christmas will not be the same without Larry as Santa Claus.

Best regards,

Ken Stickrath
SV Odyssey
Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas

Santa For Everyone, II. This is from Carol Small.

This is our Christmas card we are sending this year. We are so sad to lose Larry. He was a beacon, an icon, a fixture in our village and our lives.


Carol and Ken Small and their dog, Mariah with Santa.
Barb Ritchie remembers Larry.

One of my many memories of Larry was when I was working at M&M’s, when Marsha was the owner. He came in for dinner, and when he saw me he stated “Well, if it isn’t the lovely Barbara”. Ever after that I would always greet him by saying.. “Well if it isn’t the “lovely Larry”.

He was a lovely man…so generous, caring and always there with a kind word. The Christmas season will not be the same without “our” wonderful Santa.

Another kindness remembered. This is from Mary Beth Thorn.

I don’t know exactly when we met Captain Larry, but we moved to Oriental around the same time, so I feel we have known him during our entire Oriental existence.

In 2005, we felt it was time for a change, so we moved our family to Colorado. Since we hadn’t been able to sell our house, Larry signed a long-term lease and lived in and ran Worldwide Marine from our house. After a few months, it became obvious that we had made a HUGE mistake in leaving Oriental, and we decided to return HOME.

While it sounds easy now, it was a very difficult time for our family. We contacted Larry, and he immediately said that as soon as he could find another place, he would move. He always loved our girls and knew their lives wouldn’t be like they should be until they were truly back home.

For a few short months, we rented the house next door to our/Larry’s house and he invited the girls over in the afternoons to do homework and feel at home. We are forever grateful for his compassion and kindness. Because of him, we are all better people.

From Charis Hill, who grew up in Oriental and lives in Raleigh now:

Where do I begin? I first met Larry when he was a boat broker for Deaton Yachts. He quickly became a good friend and mentor as I grew up in Oriental. Larry began calling me “CH” early in our friendship because he believed I would be a CEO of a major company one day; he wanted me to get used to being hailed by my initials (as, he said, CEOs often are). I began calling him “LW.”

I cut his grass when he lived on Mildred Street. $20 each time! During my time there, I learned of his life through the pictures on his walls and his stories, and I learned of his love for his daughter. I felt I had a bit of an inside look at his life, and I felt his fatherly love. I felt so important as a young child to have this friendship with Santa.

LW came to my 8th grade graduation. He came to my High School graduation and graduation party. At that party he gave me a vase with ‘Oriental, NC’ inscribed along with the imprint of a crab, he said, for me to always remember Oriental. I spent a long time holding that vase when I learned of his death. He promised he was going to make it to all my graduations. The morning I graduated from Meredith College, he called my mother several times saying he was still trying make it there to see me. He was traveling by boat and had rented a car but did not realize the rental place was not open on Sundays. He was unable to pick up the car and therefore unable to make it to my graduation. His wonderful heart!

He was always so attentive to my relationships and made a point to see about my well-being in them. He offered to officiate my wedding whenever the time came. When I returned from studying abroad in South Africa several years ago I did some work for LW as he was preparing to open World Wide Marine Training on Hwy 55; while I did touch-up painting and filed papers, we enjoyed debating one another for the first time as adults. Although we did not agree on several issues, I saw LW’s amazing openness to discussion and his willingness to listen and to share without harming others’ opinions.

Larry’s statuses on Facebook during the past couple of months have been without regret. I marvel at how he lived life the way it should have been lived, and he broadcast the positiveness that it should be.

Last week on my way to Oriental for Thanksgiving I passed by LW’s office on 55. The light was on and his car was outside. I should have stopped, but I did not. It will have to wait for when we meet again.

A lasting message I keep from him is this, sent April 21, 2009:


Thanks for the reply. Actually, i do not think I have you figured out, as is true with everyone else that I know. The only label that I would put on you is “Friend.” Keep the faith!


Love you, LW.

(Following her first message, Charis sent an email to ask for one more thing to be included.)

Please add the following to my story – a note from Larry:


Keep up the good work. I still want to see a bunch of old guys twice your age addressing you “CH “ in the Board Room while they are begging you to keep their jobs!


From Lisa Clark:

My husband and I came to know Larry through my parents, James and Elizabeth Newby. What my husband and I loved about Larry was unique ability to be able to engage with just about anyone. Didn’t matter your background, experience, or reason for being, Larry could carry on a conversation and make you feel like his whole attention was on you.

In particular I remember a time when Larry visited my parents in Minneapolis, MN. At the time my husband’s parents were also visiting from Indiana. I consider my parents progressive while my husband’s parents are very conservative. I would think it’s safe to say my parents and my in-laws live and believe at complete opposite ends of the life spectrum. We all went out to dinner one night and you had my parents at one end of the table and my in laws at the other. Larry was right in the middle. He engaged my parents and my in laws like I’d never seen before. There was a lot of talk, laughter and fun. It was “classic” Larry. I had not seen my in laws in that light before and haven’t since.

Larry had so many gifts he gave to others without even trying. He taught me how to drive a boat; he always asked about my husband and my welfare when speaking to my parents and would make it a point to check in when we stayed at the house in Oriental. While this homecoming may have been too early, I rest easy knowing Heaven just got a little brighter. David and I will truly miss Captain Larry.

Cody Rifkin writes:

I was a counselor at Seafarer for many summers and the absolute highlight of the first weeks before the campers arrived was coast guard training with Captain Larry. He made the experience fun and exciting and brought a lot of joy to the classroom. All the Seagull/Seafarer staff who took his class left the week of training with a new friend in Captain Larry and I know his presence will be missed during “coast guard week” at both camps.

Leigh and Howard Longino lived in Oriental before moving to the Triangle a few years ago:

In searching my heart and trying to get my head around the loss of such a great man, it came to me just this morning. I was looking at our framed collection of Grace Frances (age 4) and her yearly picture with Santa. Larry was “her real Santa” she told her friends that all the others were just his helpers, but that she knows the Real Santa and she sees him in Oriental every year.

As I looked at the twinkle in Santa’s eys, and mine filled with tears, I had an overwhelming feeling of magic. I said out loud “I believe, I believe in Santa” I am comforted to know and believe that Larry is the REAL SANTA. He may have been a helper, or one of Santa’s elves, but I believe that yesterday morning Larry became the REAL SANTA for all of us, young and old.

He is carrying on his job and will magically come into the hearts and homes of children and adults this Christmas and forever for those that knew him. As you see some of Santa’s helpers this holiday season, know that our friend Larry has been promoted and is working hard to continue to bring joy and blessings to us all.

I hope that this magical belief that came to me this morning will bring comfort to all of you as our hearts look for answers and we go into this wondrous time of year. Say it out loud “I believe, I believe in Santa” I believe, I believe in the magic of Captain Larry”

Love to you all. We will see you next weekend.
Leigh, Howard, Grace Frances and Hollis Longino


From Jenny Boudreault:
Jenny Boudreault sent in a photo from her wedding with Jason on June 23, 2007… officiated by Larry. Then there is Larry with the mariachi band at the reception.

This is a very special painting Jenny did of Larry in 2006.
From Mary Duffie:

Many years ago, our young grandson, Traywick from SC, accompanied me to the Town N’ Country, where we met up with Larry. I introduced Traywick to Captain Walker, then explained that because Santa was so busy this time of year, Larry was Santa’s helper in Oriental. Larry commented, “Oh, but I am Santa Claus’s first cousin” as he hardily shook Traywick’s hand. Of course, he came home and told his siblings and cousins. From then on, when Larry drove by our house in his red convertible, any one of our grands would yell, “There goes Santa’s cousin.” What a loss to our community.

Another great memory is that Larry owned an accordion which he lent to an accordionist-less player for the very first Accordion Blast on the porch of The Bean. We showed a picture of Larry with a bag over his head and used that to advertise this event. The first person to recognize him was to receive a free ice cream cone. What a fun-loving guy.

With fond memories, Mary Duffie

From Sarah, Steve and Alden Kenney, came an email titled, “Goodbye, Santa’s cousin.”

For kids, living in Oriental is special in many ways. Freedom to ride bikes, growing up on the water, and having the pleasure of personally knowing Santa’s “cousin” Captain Larry Walker.

Alden Kenney with Santa.(Photo from Kenney Family colleciton.)

Seeing Larry around town was great year round, but in December it also meant being able to have some personal time with Santa with all his “connections” to the north pole. We will always remember these special times so fondly.

God Bless You….and to all a good night.

From Joe Hempel of Cincinnati, Ohio:

I was very fortunate to have met Larry by chance while on vacation in North Carolina. He had invited my brother and I to his sailboat for a drink. We were but two total strangers but Larry saw it as an opportunity to make two new friends. I will never forget how he just made you feel so good being in his company. By the end of the evening I gained more from Larry than I could have ever hope to return.

He invited us to come back the following summer to help officiate the Tarpon Tournament which we gladly accepted. Larry put us up at his house for the weekend and you just couldn’t ask for a more hospitable experience. Larry drove us around all weekend and introduced us to many of his friends and I was just amazed at how he knew every single person in town and had a story to tell of each and every one.

Joe and Tom Hempel with Larry Walker at last summer’s Rotary Tarpon Tournament.(Photo from Joe Hempel Collection.)

That weekend last summer during the tournament is one I am never going to forget. I remember the day we had to leave, and we shook Larry’s hand to thank him, and he said “you can’t leave yet because we are still having fun”. And so it goes with Larry. You just can’t help having fun and laughter when you are with him.

Our last evening in Oriental was spent on the back of another sailboat belonging to friends of his from Saint Louis. Everyone knows how much Larry loved his music and how he enjoyed music trivia, trying to recall lyrics to old songs. We sat on the back of that boat trying to stump each other for hours among the singing and laughing. And one song I tried to stump Larry on was “Sailing” by Christopher Cross, and he knew every word.

Sail on Great Captain, the horizon ahead holds all of your dreams!

From Priscilla and Roger Wormell:

Our family was in town to help celebrate our Anniversary and my big birthday. We all went to the Silo’s the night before the big celebration and Larry waved a big hello.

As I introduced him to our kids and grandkids, my son said” it’s her —th birthday and at that point Larry broke into the Marilyn Monroe rendition of HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Needless to say our guests were quite surprised and I have another wonderful memory of a very great man who left us too soon.

From Nancy & Ray Buckley:

At Christmas of 2005 Larry fulfilled a long time wish of 92 year old Mary Alice Harmon, who hade always wanted to sit on Santa’s lap and pull his beard…

From Jim, Stephanie, Nicole, and Alexis Edwards

We have adored Larry since we first “met” him six years ago through his personalized letters from Santa to our girls Nicole and Alexis. He bonded with the “sailor girls,” always encouraging them to stump him with obscure boating questions, and he in turn, would have a question that would send them scurrying for the answer. He was kind enough to give them official job interviews and employ them, on their terms, at his World Wide Marine training center. He was also a wonderful part of our youth sailing program, christening our fleet of opti’s and helping to train some of our staff. What a kind, patient and humble man.

He, and some of his friends, took a sailing class with us several weeks ago, getting ready for his trip to the BVI’s. He was looking forward to a great vacation. We were so saddened to hear the news of his death, still can’t believe it. What a special man, we will miss having him in our lives.

From Carol Coulter:
Larry baked the cake for Alex’ first birthday. He definitely made the best!! As the pictures illustrates-arrival then the disbelieve: what for me? then – awesome!!
“everyone knows that Larry had Santa connections – his connection with the Easter Bunny was not as well known. This picture was taken at a kids Easter party at our home and when I needed a Easter Bunny – I knew just where to find him.” Carol Coulter

From Elizabeth Tyndall Harwick ( Casey and Abby too!)

I almost did not write – there are certainly others that knew Larry far better than I did – but in reading the many memories, I have to share one that I will always remember. My oldest daughter had just turned 4 and was seriously doubting the existence of Santa Claus. My heart was breaking a little when I convinced her to go to the Village Club and see Santa. My late husband Phillip and I took her and her little sister, who was about 2 at the time. . . when it was our turn to go up Casey looked at me with her big blue eyes and said “I don’t know Mommy, I think he’s just a regular guy.” At that moment, Santa looked up and said “HELLLLOOOOOOOO Casey how are you on this cold night??” Her eyes were huge as she held onto my hand. He “ho ho ho’d” and said “Elizabeth, Phillip how are you with the little Abby?” Casey looked up in wonder and said “You know Santa?” He laughed again and said “I’ve known your mom and dad for a very long time . . . “ She hasn’t doubted since.

And no, Larry Walker, was not and never has been “just a regular guy.” Rest in peace dear friend knowing that you have touched so many lives.

From Crystal and Damarcus Greene:

I cant express my feelings when I received the phone call last week. I moved to Oriental about 9 years ago and work at two of the marinas and two of the restaurants. Capt. Larry was so kind and generous. He always gave me words of wisdom and many times he kept me going when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore. He always smiled and would say awe just give me hug Crystal, and it always seemed to make me feel so much better than I did at first. My son Marcus has been to every parade and we always stood in the same spot. Capt. Larry always looked at us and wished us both a Merry Christmas by our names. My son thought he was the coolest thing cause Santa always calls him out. As I was reading the towndock about Capt. Larry my sons eyes lit up and he said look its Santa from the parade. I haven’t yet told him, we have been through so much this year and I don’t know how to tell him and it not break his little heart. I started crying and he said what happened momma. So I told him that he had passed away and he has been nothing but tears sense. For the past year and a half Capt. Larry has made it a point to call my son and I every Sunday to make sure we are okay. I don’t know how I’m going to get over his calls. Always happy and cheerful with tons of wisdom and he always had a answer to ever problem I had. I will truly never forget him, nor will my son. He was a very positive person in my life and for that I am truly grateful.

We love you Capt. Larry…

From Sally Belangia:

The Belangia and Dunn family were honored to have Larry Walker at our Thanksgiving dinner. He wanted to know what he could cook and bring and I told him just to bring some beer or wine. Of course he showed up with 2 bottles of champagne and gave a toast to our parents, Lucille and Billy Truitt who are in heaven fishing. He said they were one of the first people he met when he came to Oriental. Afterwards he was headed to see Frieda W Hudson.

Everyone loved Larry, including me. He was a great friend, Rotarian, Captain, Cancer Survivor and the real Santa. Sometimes when he would come in the bank he would take me for a ride around town in his convertible. We always laughed and joked that someone in town would talk about us and we hope they did. I will truly miss him. I have his picture on my desk to always remind me of how great he was.


From Myra Blue:

Larry was the Master of Ceremonies for the Vintage Fashion Show recently held at the Pamlico County Heritage Center. Pamlico CC and the PC Historical Association partnered to put on the fundraiser. Larry was outstanding in his vintage tuxedo. He even commented that his “shoes” were vintage. He was a good friend of our community.

From Rich Walker in Fort Worth, Texas:

My name is Rich Walker. I am one of Larry’s brothers. I just thought that the residents of Oriental might like to know a little bit about Larry’s immediate family members. Larry is survived by two wonderful daughters. Alicia is married and has one child. Her husband is a college professor and Alicia is a successful business woman. Christina is married and has one child also. Her husband is a police officer and Chrissy is a grammar school teacher. Alicia & Christina have evolved into two charming young ladies. As their uncle, I am very proud of them. Carol is Alicia’s & Christina’s Mom. She is a successful banker and has been a fabulous Mom, having done a fantastic job raising these girls.

Dealing with loss can be difficult any time of year. However, I think that dealing with a loss during the Christmas season is especially difficult. As we move forward, it is always comforting to be able to lean on the loved ones that remain.

From Kevin Quade:

Well, it doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while you meet someone that you instantly think the world of. I’m talking about Larry of course. We met Larry through World Wide Marine Training several years ago and became great friends. We are also fellow Rotarians.

Knowing that Louise and I wanted to have a boat and maybe a house on the East coast, Larry invited us to Oriental many times to visit him and check out the town. A few years ago it worked out that we could come to Oriental to visit. Larry insisted that we stay at his house for almost a week. When we did that, we had one of the best times of our lives exploring the area with him. We met a lot of his close friends, people that we think the world of now also. Like a lot of other residents of Oriental, we fell in love with the town and its residents instantly. We stopped our East coast search in favor of buying a boat slip in Pecan Grove Marina that very week. We visited Larry and Oriental many times after that. Larry came to St. Louis several times also, where we always had a good time with him. We finally bought Dave and Carol Wright’s sailboat “Bristol Star”. We had a lot of fun with Larry and friends on Bristol Star. We sailed, cooked dinner and had a drink or two on her. Larry helped watch after her when storms threatened the area. Bristol Star always did well thanks to Larry and our other good friend Ross. We had planned to do some long distance cruising with Larry in the future, maybe sailing to Bermuda first.

Larry was one of our best friends, we will never forget him, his contagious smile, great sense of humor and vast knowledge of marine and music trivia. We are deeply saddened by his passing. We still plan to do some sailing with Larry someday – at another time, in a better place……

Fair winds and following seas captain, we miss you very much buddy.

From Joe and Jan DeSherlia:

Following is the story and some photos from Larry’s last days in the British Virgin Islands:

Larry diving
Captain Larry and friends at “The Baths”

To the Family and Friends of Captain Larry,

Captain Larry arrived in the British Virgin Islands on Sunday prior to Joe and me. When we arrived at the marina, Captain Larry had already made himself at home with some of the crew that arrived earlier that day. His warm jolly voice welcomed us from our long trip and cocktails and pizza began to flow.
Early the next morning, Captain Larry had us all up with the roosters for morning exercises. (There are roosters everywhere in the BVI!) Off we went for a long walk through Road Town. Captain Larry has recently dropped 30 pounds and wanted to continue his diet and exercise throughout our trip. He was looking great! Always a gentleman Captain Larry insisted on walking on the outside of the sidewalk closest to the road. We had not stopped for provisions so Captain Larry went into a convenience store for coffee. Out walks Larry with 5 cups of coffee, one that he was trying to drink and the others that he wanted to carry back to the crew on the boat. Captain Larry spilled that coffee EVERYWHERE! That is Captain Larry – friends first.

Before setting sail Monday, Captain Larry wanted to brief the crew on safety tips. Man overboard techniques, first aid kits, safety issues and the dangers of sailing. Captain Larry had his crew wrapped safely in his strong grip.

We set sail mid Monday afternoon to our first destination, Norman Island. Many of us went snorkeling in the caves but others were influenced by Captain Larry’s excitement to meet up with some of his many friends in the BVI. Can you imagine? Captain Larry had a list of friends from around the world that he was to see while we were in the BVI this week. Wow, every man should be this lucky!

Tuesday the winds picked up and Captain Larry, once again, had us back in the classroom. He had us pumped up for our first day of sailing. Calm seas, fair winds and great friends. It was the perfect day! The sailing was beautiful and the scuba diving was wonderful. Our first dive was a ship wreck from 1867 called the “Wreck of the Rhone”. The seas had picked up and the current was a little strong so it made diving more difficult but not enough to end the dive. We all did fine and were excited about taking our next dive on Thursday.

We ended the evening back on the Catamaran singing to the tunes of Dave on the guitar and Captain Larry’s wonderful, wonderful voice. The song that I most enjoyed hearing Captain Larry sing is, “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley. We went to our cabins that night with a lot of love in our hearts. We were amongst some of the most wonder people in the world.

Wednesday our first destination was “The Baths” located on Virgin Gorda. We hiked through beautiful grottos formed by giant stones, with exotic pools strewn across gorgeous sandy beaches. Once you reach the end of “The Baths” a tiki bar is welcoming you with island music and cold beverages. We gathered for a drink and some laughs and started back to the boat. At this point we had two options; to hike back or to swim. Captain Larry swam and this was the first time that I was concerned about him. Our friends said that when he returned to the boat he was a little winded, but not enough to be alarmed. We pulled up anchor – “Full Speed Ahead”!

Wednesday evening we ended up at a grill on the beach. It was very primitive. This did not faze Captain Larry in the slightest. When I asked, “should we leave or should we stay?” Captain Larry looked at me like, why on earth would we leave? We stayed and had a wonderful time. An old army truck served as our taxi and returned us to the marina. We stopped at a bar with a deck overlooking the ocean. There was a band playing and Captain Larry danced to just about every song. Captain Larry knows that I cannot dance so he led me. He swirled and twirled me. I danced like a rock star. I have thanked God over and over for my last dance with Captain Larry.

Thursday morning we got a call from the dive shop asking our location. They told us that we had better get going and Captain Larry just chuckled and said that we had plenty of time. He was right; we were there at 10:00 sharp. We jumped in the dive boat and off we went.

Within a few minutes we arrived at our first dive site. It was also a wreck dive called “Wreck Alley”. Its deepest point was 85 feet. The seas were much calmer for this dive and there was very little current to swim against. We had a group of nine divers and we all wanted to dive together. The girls and the guys that use the least amount of air got into the water first. Captain Larry and a few of the other guys entered the water last. Each of us gave the dive master the signal that all was ok. Just before we were ready to descend, Captain Larry was still teaching. My brother-in-law Mike has a tough time equalizing so he was telling Mike to descend very slowly and clear his ears every few feet.

Once down on the ocean floor the dive master asked us each for our “OK” sign. We were all doing great. Captain Larry swam beneath me the first part of the dive. It was beautiful. Little current, good visibility and the sea life was plentiful. We saw barracuda, eel, huge grouper, coral reefs, it was gorgeous. The second half of the dive Captain Larry was not with Joe and me. This was normal. The men that use the most air end their dives early and ascend while we continue the dive. Ten minutes later we ascended to our 3 minute safety stop and returned to the surface. The minute that we hit the surface we knew that there was something terribly wrong. The dive master told us that there was trouble and to remain on the dive boat. He swam to the boat that had stopped to assist. This is when I first saw Captain Larry at the surface. CPR was being administered, Mayday calls were put out over the radio and rescue boats were being dispatched. A doctor that had heard our cries for help came within seconds and went to aid Captain Larry. She also helped administer CPR to Captain Larry. VISAR, the Virgin Islands Search and Rescue Team showed up within minutes and transported Captain Larry and our dive master to a hospital in Tortola.

Joe and I and the rest of the crew followed in the dive boat back to shore. Once we arrived on shore, Joe and I were transported to the hospital. After about an hour, three doctors from the Tortola Hospital came to us and told us that they had done all that they could do for Larry. The next few days were very tough; many arrangements, questions, tears and heartaches. We talked to local authorities, the American Embassy and other local agencies that assist in situations such as ours.

Saturday morning we renamed our vessels Larry 1 and Larry 2 and once again set sail into the Caribbean. As we departed the marina a cloud above our heads followed us out to sea. It was shaped like an angel with wings, with a long white beard, of course. It was our Captain, Captain Larry Walker, protecting us and guiding us out to sea. Showing us that life goes on and that his love will remain with us forever.

Captain Larry did not leave us at sea that day. Captain Larry will never leave our hearts. He will remain with us forever. He will help us through our strong winds and rough seas and he will guide us into many more beautiful sunsets.

We hope that this letter helps you with any questions that you may have. Our hearts and prayers are with you.
The Crew of Larry 1 and Larry 2
Joe and Jan DeSherlia
Tim and Val Aulabaugh
Dave and Karen Wilmouth
Jeff and Cheryl Baecht
Joan and Mike Steckel
Tim and Ginger Davis
Jane Burge

A sailing lesson…


From Douglas J. Pearce, M.D.:

As a physician I have the immense privilege of developing personal relationships with people from all over our country and all walks of life. Few have touched me as Larry did.

Let me be clear. I was not Larry’s doctor. I was his student. I met Larry in May of this year when I took his OUPV course at World Wide Marine Training. When you first meet Larry you are immediately struck by his genuine warmth and love of people. However, it doesn’t take long before you realize that he is (was) a brilliant man.

The breath and depth of his fund of knowledge was amazing. He could engage you in an intelligent conversation on most any topic. In particular, his knowledge of geography exceeded that of any teacher I ever had. That said, there are a lot of people who know a lot. There are not many teachers as gifted as Larry. (And I have had a lot of practice being a student.) If you didn’t quite get what he was explaining; he would twist the explanation just a little until it became clear. Larry was the embodiment of life. I spoke with Larry several times over the last six months. While I do not pretend to have known him as any of you did; I will miss him. I will also miss taking another course with him and bringing my eldest child to meet an amazing man.

From Barbara and Ray Nuzzo:

Thank you for your outpouring of love during this sad time!

I’m Larry’s cousin Barbara from New Jersey. He and I were very close so it was hard for me when he left the Garden State for the shores of North Carolina. The one hour drive between us became ten hours so we burned up a lot of telephone time. The only thing that always comforted me with him so far away was how much he loved Oriental and the warm welcome he enjoyed from everyone he met there. I watched friendships deepen as his sense of “family” took hold and am grateful for the joy you gave him. Oriental is a small town with a big heart, exactly the sort of place Larry wanted to be. Yes, I always missed him, but he loved his new life there so it became easy for me to share him.

My husband Ray and I appreciate everyone who reached out and befriended Larry over the years. The heartwarming tributes we’ve seen since his tragic loss show how loved he was in his new home town. We’re deeply touched and once again, comforted by all those who share the weight of our sorrow.

Thank you all for your kindness and for loving Larry as much as we do.

Larry Walker’s memorial service will be at St Peter the Fisherman Catholic Parish on 1149 White Farm Road in Oriental on Dec 30 at 11a.
Following the memorial service there will be a gathering of friends and family, 2pm at Windmill Pointe Community Center on Wind Lake Road in Oriental. Organizers request you bring (or drop off early) a covered dish and beverage of your choice.

Captain Larry Walker’s memorial service had an overflow audience, with both happy memories and tears shared. The Reverend Jim Newby presided. Jim provided files from the service – the memorial message, the memorial bulletin – and a Powerpoint file with photos from Larry’s life.

Memorial Message

Memorial Bulletin

Larry Walker – photos to remember (this is a large PowerPoint file – it may take a few minutes to download).

Posted Friday December 3, 2010 by Melinda Penkava

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