In Loving Memory of
David Richard Larson
May 30, 1942 – April 25, 2022
A loving and strong family man with deep social justice convictions and many interests, passions and collections, David Richard Larson, 79, died peacefully at home surrounded by his family on April 25, 2022. He was the beloved husband of 47 years of Sara Larson (nee Surgenor); the adored father and stepfather of Erik Larson (Tracey), Kim Schneiberg (Jerry), David Fuller, Sherry Monardo (Dom), and William “Buddy” Fuller; the loving grandfather of his nine grandchildren: Miles (Kelly), Christopher, Madeline, Ella, Alex, Sam, Ben, Kate and Ian; the big brother to Barbara, Brenda and Gary (Nancy), and brother-in-law to Margaret (Dave), Donna (Jay), Cathy and Billie (Dave); and the wise and entertaining uncle to numerous nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews.
David was born on May 30, 1942 at OSU Hospital in Columbus, Ohio to Richard and Esther Larson. David grew up in Broad Ripple, Indiana, where he was a paper boy, a varsity tennis player at Broad Ripple High School, and an Eagle Scout. David received his B.A. degree from Hanover College in 1964. While at Hanover, David was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, the tennis team, and the editor of the school newspaper. He then went on to receive his M.A. degree in History from Case Western Reserve University in 1966; his Ph.D. in History from The Ohio State University in 1982; and a Juris Doctor degree from Capital University Law School in 1986.
David began his professional life as a Manuscripts Processor at the Western Reserve History Society in Cleveland, Ohio. He then went on to become the Chief of the Archives and Manuscripts Division at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio. He later became the Chief of the Achieves-Library Division. Among other accomplishments, here David led the development of innovative programs for the state archives, specialized in the acquisition of major manuscripts collections, developed a large oral history program, and ran one of the most successful fundraising programs in the country. Additionally, David was the author and editor of many archival publications. Under David’s leadership, the Archives Library was the recipient of the annual Society of American Archivists’ national “Distinguished Service Award” in 1975. During this time, he also founded and served as coordinator of the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers from 1970-1975. He was also the founder and first president of the Society of Ohio Archivists.
In 1976, David served as the Executive Director of the Franklin County Democratic Party, and stayed active in Democratic politics throughout his life. In 1978, he became the President of Archival Systems, Inc., where he spearheaded major projects including the evaluation for the National Historical and Publications Commission of the manuscripts programs at the American Jewish Archives and Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and a comprehensive analysis of racial attitudes and fair housing programs in Franklin County. He then served as the business manager of Fishman Legal Services.
In 1985, David began working for the State of Ohio as the Chief of the Information Management Section of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services. Here he supervised a modernization of the State Records Center. Thereafter, he served as the State Records Administrator for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services. Additionally, from 1992-2004, David taught American History as an Adjunct Professor at Columbus State Community College. Through the years, David was also an active community participant with the Columbus Public Schools, the YMCA where he coached youth basketball, the Unitarian Social Concerns Committee, the Scandinavian Club, the Boy Scouts of America, Columbus Fathers for Equal Justice, the ACLU-Central Ohio Chapter, and the Northwest Area Council.
David was passionate about photography, travel, sports, music and life-long learning. With Sara, David traveled to all fifty states, 76 countries, and 20 territories; they journeyed everywhere from the north of Sweden, to China, Russia and India, to all ten provinces in Canada to Australia’s outback, and many countries in-between. Beginning in the 1970s, the pair shared their love of travel with their five children. Wrangling the crew in their big 1970’s-era station wagon, they took their five kids on many summer trips, including David’s beloved National Parks, New York City, Hilton Head, California, and Mexico City. They exposed their kids to every museum, landmark, and historical site possible along the way. David was known for his dedication to the trips, often by driving all hours of the night to reach their destinations. Sara and David traveled extensively, beyond the years of summer vacations. Highlights included dog sledding in Alaska and Sweden, visiting the Mandela house in South Africa, riding camels in Egypt, exploring the Amazon and Ghana, and the rich history of the American South. They spent a year living and traveling to 27 countries throughout Europe in 2005. Also a lover of motorcycles, David rode his cherished Harley-Davidson cross-country.
David loved and appreciated sports, both as a spectator and an athlete. He ran the Columbus and Berlin marathons, in addition to countless smaller races. He was an avid tennis and basketball player. In addition, he was a life-long Cleveland Browns and Ohio State fan. In fact, one of the only things he was not able to accomplish in his lifetime was cheering on the Browns in the Super Bowl. Nevertheless, David was able to attend two OSU national championship football games. David also loved the Olympics, and traveled to and attended five Olympic Games. He was honored to be a torchbearer for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.
David loved music, and while he enjoyed a wide variety of musical genres, his favorites were jazz and classic rock and blues. When he wasn’t traveling, and often when he was, he attended hundreds of live concerts; including Pearl Jam in Vancouver, Bob Dylan in Stockholm, and the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands. He saw artists ranging from Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, BB King, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, to Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Allman Brothers and Bob Segar to Madonna and the Backstreet Boys and Katy Perry with his grandchildren, and countless other artists in-between.
While with family, on his travels, and even during his daily life, David saw the value of taking photographs. He was a talented and meticulous photographer. He took tens of thousands of pictures over his lifetime, and compiled, organized and curated many photo albums documenting his life and travels, as well as the lives of his family.
Above all else, David’s greatest love was for his family. Sara was the love of his life, and the two were the greatest of companions in all aspects of their lives. David cherished his children and provided wise counsel and comfort throughout their lives. His children will always remember the fierce games of flag football, capture the flag, the stairstep Christmas stocking photos, the epic Agler-Davidson Sporting Goods annual sale, discussions of politics, Civil Rights, history and the value of education. David was a devoted grandfather. He loved being involved in his grandchildren’s lives, and was there (and taking pictures) for every sports event, play, birthday party, art and history exhibit, concert, and graduation that he could be up until the very end of his life.
David was a dynamic person – many who knew him called him “interesting” above all else. He loved museums, history and politics, sports, music, chess, books, collections, and photography. He saw the critical value of engaging in our political system and also wouldn’t miss an opportunity to see a jazz musician on stage. He believed in justice and had an unfailing conviction for equality. He was a lifelong learner with a passion for curiosity and engaging with the world and its people and its history and culture. David lived a rich, full life and touched the lives of so many. He will be deeply missed.
Contributions in David’s honor may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or stjude.org.
A Celebration of David’s Life will be held on David’s 80th Birthday - May 30, 2022 from 1:00pm - 5:00pm at the Larson residence