Larry (Lawrence A.) Booker, 93, was born July 30, 1924 in Denver, Colorado to Maybelle E. (Camp) Booker and Lawrence A. Booker. He entered eternal life on Sunday, October 29, 2017, in Lawrence, KS, two days after a bad fall that resulted in a serious brain injury.
Services will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 5500 Woodson Rd., Mission, KS 66202. Visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m., Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m., followed by lunch in the parish hall. Burial will take place at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Topeka, KS.
Larry and his boyhood friends in Denver found many ways to entertain themselves on the cheap during the Depression: riding bikes, building contraptions with “found” materials, digging tunnels in the dirt on vacant lots, playing in nearby Washington Park, and even blowing glass from discarded neon tubes over his mother’s gas stove!
He was a talented guy and could teach himself to do most anything, the original MacGyver with a solution for everything. He could build houses from scratch, do beautiful carpentry work; anything he set his mind to.
Larry loved to sing and had a great ear for harmony. An entertainer at heart, he played sousaphone in school bands and later learned to play guitar and harmonica, as well. A lifelong member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, Larry sang with Barbershop quartets and choruses for more than 60 years.
After high school, he enrolled in the University of Denver (DU), but with WWII escalating, he enlisted in the Marines where he was assigned to work in military prisons stateside. As morale officer at one facility, he got permission to buy used band instruments as a means of keeping inmates occupied and out of trouble, successfully creating a makeshift music ensemble at the prison!
After the war, Larry resumed his education at DU where he met Maxine Davidson, from Emporia, Ks. who had come to DU to finish her degree in journalism. They married on November 27, 1947, and settled in Kansas City. Larry worked as an engineer at the Ford auto plant and then at Montgomery Ward, but within a few years, Larry and Maxine went into business for themselves. Initially they sold redwood fencing, but quickly expanded into remodeling, and eventually, a retail store called Larry Booker’s Builder’s Mart (later rebranded as Booker’s Decorating Center) in Mission, Ks., selling paint, wall and floor coverings. In subsequent years, they also became wallpaper distributors through Mission Wallcoverings, the wholesale arm of their business.
Larry and Maxine were adventurous people, and in the late 1950s bought a lot at the Lake of the Ozarks. Larry used his innate ability make things and constructed a small cabin, even using native stone for the foundation. The Booker family and friends have endless great memories from those lovely years at the lake.
In retirement, they loved to travel, particularly enjoying being part of The Frustrated Maestros, a group of musicians who would play and sing at RV campouts. His dear Maxine died in 2009 and Larry was an ever faithful spouse and primary caregiver. They had been married 61 years.
Larry was also a talented artist, loved golf, and was an active volunteer even into his 80s. He was very civic-minded and served elected terms as a Westwood, Ks. City Councilman and member of the Johnson County, Ks. Water Board.
As Larry became more frail, he developed an amazing capacity for acceptance, with grace, of life’s difficultés. He took it upon himself to be as positive and friendly as he could with everyone he came in contact with, and nothing made his day more than being able to make someone smile.
Larry was preceded death by his parents, wife Maxine, son Greg, son-in-law George Tiffany, and many other beloved family members and friends. He is survived by daughters Laura Tiffany and Ginny Booker; grandchildren Kim (Brian) Green, Mike (Gracie) Tiffany, Kevin Booker, Missy Booker and Katie Booker; great grandchildren Mary Green, James Green, Megan Green, Emily Green, Nick Green, Abby Green, and George Tiffany; Janice Hawes, his friend and companion in his last few years of life at Park Meadows Senior Living community.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the charity of your choice. To leave fond memories and condolences please visit johnsoncountychapel.com