A Life Lived: Larry Walsh stood up for the helpless and defenseless

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Larry Joe Walsh was a quiet, unassuming person, but every day of his working career, he was on the front lines working with troubled and disadvantaged children and families and helping his fellow workers to be the best they could be.

Larry was retired as a social worker with Children’s Services, working both in the field and in supervision. His career spanned 37 years. During that time, Larry made numerous home visits and later supervised a group home. “Larry worked with both troubled youth and their families. He never condemned them, just tried to make life better for all concerned,” said his wife, Joyce. “Some of the children were just in bad situations and had to be removed from their families until things could be made better at home. Through the years he came in contact with a lot of families and children. Some of his cases turned out for the good, and some not so good. But he never gave up on any of the children, nor their families,” said Joyce.

Larry had a good working relationship with his peers and long after he quit working, he and other retirees of the Department of Children’s Services would meet for lunch once a month at the Olive Garden. “It was a dinner date he always looked forward to and enjoyed,” said his wife.

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Larry grew up in Butler, one of eight children of Roddie V. and Alice Walsh. He was a graduate of Hampton High School, where he played baseball. It was not unusual for Larry after a game to walk from the school to his home in Butler. When Larry was growing up, few kids had their own car. They rode the school bus and if they stayed after school to participate in sports, they had to find their own way home.

“Once he had a no-hitter in baseball, and after the game walked home,” said Joyce.

After graduation, he began college at East Tennessee State University. His college studies were interrupted when he was drafted for military service during the Vietnam War era. He served in communications with the U.S. Army in Thailand, but after military service returned to school to complete his studies.

Larry after high school and college remained a sports lover. He loved watching basketball, football and baseball games. “Larry was also an avid reader. He especially enjoyed Louie L’amour westerns and mysteries by David Baldacci. His love for reading dates back to when he was in elementary school at Elk Mills,” Joyce said.

She shared how that when Larry was a boy attending Elk Mills Elementary, he would keep a window open so he could sneak into the school during the summer months to play basketball and go into the library and read books. “That wouldn’t happen now, but it was a small community school, and there was no harm in what he did,” Joyce said.

Larry and Joyce were married 45 years before his death May 27 at the age of 73. They had three children: Wendy, Jamie, and Sherry, and three grandchildren.

In addition to his children and grandchildren, Larry also had a four-legged friend, Zoey. “He always had a dog,” said Joyce.

Larry’s mother-in-law, Selma Vines, shared that Larry was a wonderful man and good son-in-law. His friends and co-workers agree that Larry, though quiet and a man of few words, was very compassionate. His actions spoke volumes about him.

One co-worker shared, “Larry had a very caring heart. He cared about the children and the families he served. He always stood up for those who could not speak for themselves.”