Emeritus professor remembered

Photo Courtesy of Lawrence Duffy.

Photo Courtesy of Lawrence Duffy.

Grace Murray

Kent State University students, faculty and alumni remember an emeritus professor, following his death early Monday morning, for his teaching ability and his baritone voice.

Gary Larkin passed away March 11 from lung cancer at the age of 71. During his employment at Kent State, Larkin worked as a professor in the department of biological sciences for more than 25 years.

“Dr. Larkin was an important member of our [department] at a critical time in its history,” wrote Laura Leff, professor and interim chair in the department of biological sciences, in an email interview. “He contributed greatly to multiple aspects of our missions and helped provide department leadership.”

Though he retired from teaching in 1994, Larkin’s legacy as a professor continues as some of his former students are now in his shoes, teaching and passing along his wisdom, Leff said.

John Swistok, junior history major and Men’s Chorus member, said once Larkin retired, he returned to his passion – singing.

“He served as a mentor in Men’s Chorus,” Swistok said. “He was a friend to everyone and was always willing to share his life experiences with you.”

Kent State and Men’s Chorus alumnus Michael Martin wrote in an email interview, Larkin was the only member of the faculty, retired or not, who wanted to sing as part of the group.

“He had the heart of an 18-year-old, but carried with that the wisdom of his age,” Martin wrote. “He had nothing but care and concern for all of the members of the chorus.”

Though willing to share his knowledge, Larry Duffy, 2008 Kent State and Men’s Chorus alumnus, said, “[Larkin] was always really humble. He had a doctorate, but he never brought it up. He would rather talk about everyone else rather than himself.”

Larkin was often referred to as the “oldest freshman” in the Men’s Chorus, as he attended all of the group’s practices, shows and tours for years, said Eric Braun, 2009 Kent State and Men’s Chorus alumnus.

“He was one of us,” Braun said. “He didn’t have much of a family, but we, Men’s Chorus, became his family.”

If Larkin was not at a Men’s Chorus event, he could often be found at a Kent State football or basketball game.

“I used to schedule my classes around the basketball games,” Duffy said, “and I always saw [Larkin] sitting right behind the bench. If I couldn’t make my way up to see him during the game, we always met in the lobby to discuss the plays.”

Similarly Braun said, “[Larkin] had season tickets, and he was a die-hard Kent State fan. Kent State was a part of his life – his blood was blue and gold.”

Larkin’s influence on the Kent State community can be seen through the new Facebook group created in his honor. Since its creation Monday morning, the group now has more than 200 members, all of whom are using the social networking site to share their memories of Larkin.

“I will remember his laugh and his banter,” Martin said, “but mostly I will try to pay forward his youthful spirit and sage advice. While I will miss the man, I have his friendship and memories to keep me company on the rest of my journey. I will always be indebted to him.”

For those who wish to honor Larkin, a memorial service will take place Monday, March 18, at 11 a.m. in Cuyahoga Falls’ St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Grace Murray is the student affairs reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Grace Murray at [email protected].