Obituary: Joel McLean Larsen, 1929-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Joel McLean Larsen, 1929-2022

Navy veteran and world traveler was a kind man with simple needs

Published February 9, 2022 at 6:05 a.m.
Updated February 9, 2022 at 3:44 p.m.


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Joel Larsen - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Joel Larsen

Joel McLean Larsen died from COVID-19 in Shelburne, Vt.

Joel was born in Ogden, Utah, to Boyd and Verda Larsen. He was the second of five children and lived in the West until high school. His family mainly lived in Wyoming, including a few years living in Yellowstone Park. “I was the fifth grade at school. When two kids got the flu, we closed the school, as it was an epidemic. Three kids in my family and the ranger’s kids — that was our school.” Those early years living in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming were in sharp contrast to his family’s move to Washington, D.C., when he was a teen. Joel embraced this change, as with everything else life threw at him — with a carefree attitude and a smile.

Joel received his degree in economics from Cornell University, which he said was because they had given him the most money to attend there. He joined the Navy, as he said the Navy gave him a uniform — versus the Army, which asked you to buy your uniform. He settled in New York City after the Navy, stealing the heart of his shipmate’s girl, Judith Bingham. Judy and Joel’s tales of dating in New York in the early 1950s are the stuff dreams are made of. Young love, late-night parties and Manhattans in Manhattan. Joel and Judy remained friends with Joel’s shipmate for the rest of their lives.

Joel earned his MBA from New York University while working at Chemical Bank in NYC. He and Judy were married in 1956. Their son, Peter, was born in 1958, followed by his daughters, Dinah and Jennifer. He worked in many different capacities for many companies, advancing in the finance and data processing fields. It was a fun and lively time living in Hightstown, N.J., Joel and Judy’s adopted hometown. Joel taught his kids about the stock market at the First National Bank of the Front Porch. He also taught us how to pull pranks on our mother; how blindfolding your kids in the car made every excursion a guessing game; how to participate in politics, because it is important to stand up for what you believe in; and, at any given opportunity, when offered a cookie or a maple creemee, you must take advantage. Dad loved raucous dinner parties with the potluck group, goofy plays with the church group, and cheese and crackers on the porch at Oven Bay House.

Hightstown, N.J., was a small town where Joel was able to volunteer his time and make a difference. He was a very active member of the Republican Party, the First Presbyterian Church, the Community Action Service Center, the Hightstown East Windsor Historical Society, the Zoning Board and the Boy Scouts. He became the self-appointed photographer at the First Presbyterian Church because there were “no committees and no meetings.” He loved to find out what made people tick, and he was known for putting out his hand to help.

After retirement, Joel and Judy moved to Vermont to be near their family. They enjoyed their retirement and their friends at Wake Robin. They were able to travel and vacation all over the world, but at heart, Joel was a kind man who had simple needs. He rarely had a harsh word for anyone, except for people who don’t vote or his teenage daughters when they tried to use his rebellious side to their own advantage.

He was predeceased by his son, Peter, in 1973. He was also predeceased by his sisters, Nancy, Lois and Carol. He is survived by his adored wife of more than 65 years, Judy. He is survived by his daughters, Dinah and Jennifer, who are fortunate enough to know that he loved us dearly. His son-in-law, Alain Brizard, and his daughter-in-law, Kara Lenorovitz, were incredibly loved by Joel. He is also survived by his cherished grandson, Peter. Their adventures together were magical, including their induction into the 251 Club of Vermont. His treasured best friends for most of his life were his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Ken and Phyllis Severson, and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Allen and Jody Bingham. He is also survived by his kind brother, Gary, and his wife, Sharon, of Stamford, Conn.

Joel and Judy have lived at Wake Robin for many years. The staff graciously and kindly cared for our dad, and we thank them for the difficult and often sad work done on his behalf. Dad never missed an opportunity to extol the virtues of the bighearted people who help usher residents through this phase of life.

This summer at Lake Champlain, we will have a celebration of his life. Dad’s choice of charity was Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, a camp for children with cancer. Please make a donation in memory of a jolly old man, Joel McLean Larsen: Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, 77 Sunset View Rd., South Hero, VT 05486 (takumta.org).

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