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‘Safely home’ but deeply mourned

June 3, 2012
By ESTHER MCCOY - Staff writer (emccoy@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

Neither the pain of a car accident, an extreme physical blow to the body or surgery without anesthesia could compare to the pain I experienced on May 24 at 4:30 p.m.

I walked into our home from visiting a friend and saw Lamont and his twin brother, Larry, with extreme looks of anguish on their faces and asked what was wrong.

Lamont could not talk for a minute but then said, "Larry is gone." Since my brother-in-law Larry was standing next to me, I knew it had something to do with our Larry.

"What do you mean gone?" I asked.

"He died around noon today. They think it was a massive heart attack," was the painful explanation.

I remember repeating "No" many, many times and then crying like my heart would break ... and it did at that moment.

Just the day before, Larry and I had had lunch together, and it was such a happy occasion. We laughed at things no one else would think was funny, but he had a way of always making people laugh. We walked back to our vehicles, and I gave him a tin of raisin-filled cookies and one of M&M cookies, along with two jars of pickles. (Moms think their children need strange things that no one else would think of.)

Larry hugged me hard, kissed me on the cheek and said, "I love you, and we we will do this again soon." He drove off to his afternoon shift at work, and I never saw him alive again.

The only consolation is that he was thought to have gone quickly, and he left behind so many people who revealed how much they loved him and how much he helped them over the years.

His brothers, Jay and Darin, broke all speed limits from Columbus after they learned about the death.

Actually, Mary Koos, the love of Larry's life, had the harrowing job of trying to locate us when he came into the hospital dead on arrival. Lamont was mowing the yard while I was in Weirton, and she tried every avenue to get someone to tell Lamont to call her at the hospital, where she works. She finally contacted Jay who found Lamont.

We have had so much support, food and offers of help that I cannot comprehend it all. Bob and Mary Ellen Petrozzi asked if we wanted to borrow an extra refrigerator. At that moment I could not imagine why but soon learned that food would come pouring in and would fill our fridge to capacity. Bob even brought the fridge to our garage in a highlift. Jason Lambright came up to offer lawn mowing services as well.

Jeff Foster came out immediately the evening of Larry's death and did much to help. He even rushed the obit into Friday's news publication. We knew if it waited until Saturday morning that many would already have holiday plans and would not see it.

We had no idea what to expect at the funeral home but were completely overwhelmed at the people streaming in. They arrived at 2:30 p.m., half an hour before the 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. calling hours and were still arriving at 7 p.m.

I looked back from my position in the greeting line and saw people lined up out the door. I thought, "Oh, Larry, if you could see how much people think of you."

Larry seems to have inherited something I will call the Whitney Houston syndrome for lack of better words. We both think despite giving our best at a task that it is not good enough and agonize over it. I will paraphrase what Kevin Costner said at Whitney's funeral: "Larry you were good enough."

We were told that TIMET suspended the afternoon shift of the ultra sonic and lab department for the employees to visit Larry. I looked into the faces of his fellow workers and remembered hearing Larry speak of each and every one of them.

If we missed anyone here, I just did not recognize the name in the remembrance book but Tim Cybulski; Doug Zink; Doug Misconish; Pete Colantoni; Sherry Mynster-Martin; Shirley Kinyo; Al Kinyo, who is retired; Rick Spring; John and Keith Gooch; Andy Powley; J.J.Thompson; Mary Beth Firm; Jeff Matyas; Joe Hildreth; George Atsalis; Rick Granatir; Jim Kirkpartick and Andy Blaner, who are both retired; Brian Warren; Sidney "Skip" Jones; Nick Kaschak; Jeff DiPasquale; Jack Carroll, retired; Bruce Boris; Scott Champion; Rob McCourt; and Butch Edmonds all passed through our greeting line and repeated to everyone what a good worker, loyal friend and comedian he had been.

I know of at least three people telling me that Larry had shared the cookies I gave him. He was like that, if he had something, he wanted to share it.

There were many from his Buckeye North days passing through also: Tim Buchanan, his very good friend since arriving at North in his sophomore year; Judie Kropka Stephenson, a friend from childhood; Greig and Mark McCoy, his cousins; Gary Kurtz; Bob Omaits; Mark Carpenter; Mitzi Probert; Tim Zifzal; Kim Rensi Yocum; Don Ogden; Rhonda Clark and Jacque Turner McCoy; Ted Boyd; Annette Frye Ensell; Bill Boyd; Rich Phillips; Steve and Scott Hockenberry; Mike and Jeff Mosser, two other good friends; Norman Buchanan; Mark Clark; Larry Teramana; and Larry Graham.

Some wonderful people got up to talk, and it was evident that they were crushed by Larry's leaving. Tim Buchanan found it hard to get started but expressed his great friendship and losing his fishing buddy. Travis McHugh, Larry's cousin, told of the mischievous things they got into and how he loved his cousin, reading a poem entitled "Cousins."

Mary Emery told of Larry's calling the Herald-Star to talk with his mother and asking for "Me Mum." Kathy Dombroski told of meeting him for the first time when he returned from California and how she made a Welcome Home sign that brought a lump to Larry's throat. Mary Hazlett told how he referred to her as his second mother and how Larry would always send Christmas cards with a personal note to tell her that he loved her.

Greig McCoy relived funny things that happened in their youth and commiserated over them losing track of each other over time. "We should realize that there might not be another day to see a friend and do it right away. Nothing is more important than family and friends," Greig said in introducing the song that he and Larry sang on June 16, 1996, Father's Day, for both of their dads in church. He told how Larry was excited about them singing together and even started practicing the song back in California.

Jeff Foster knelt to hold the microphone to the television with the VHS attached so "We Are Soldiers Again in the Army of the Lord" could be heard even in the kitchen area, where many had to sit because the facility was packed.

Mary Koos said he once mentioned that upon his death he wanted "Silent Lucidity" played and wanted to go out with bagpipes playing. She tried unsuccessfully to find a bagpipe player but Foster had a recording of the haunting music that led people out of the funeral home.

I awakened at 2:30 a.m. on Friday and stayed up the rest of the night writing thoughts of my son on paper. I asked Pastor Wilford Simeral to read them at the funeral, and I would like to share them with you in closing.

If you were to look up selflessness in the dictionary or Google it, you wouldn't find the words Larry Scott McCoy. But it should have been there. Thoughtful might be another word to use.

Larry was 14 years old when his Grandfather McHugh died. He took it upon himself to look after his Grandmother Marian and would lend a hand to help her from her chair and walk with his arm in hers.

When asked, she always told him she was 39 years old, something he finally realized wasn't true when his own mother turned 30.

Larry was working in California when she died and sent a spray of roses. There was a note reading "One for each of your wonderful years," and there were 39 of them. The note also read, "Be sure to tell Grandpa that we said hi!"

His Grandfather McCoy died at age 68, the same age as his Grandpa McHugh. He always called him Pap and loved going fishing with him. That is likely where he got the love of the sport.

Larry was always calling to check on Grandma Bessie after that. And his birthday and Christmas cards would be the first to arrive each year. Those cards were as big as a book and had a special verse that would take him more than half an hour to pick out.

The telephone was always his best friend. He would pick it up at any hour of the day or night to check on family and friends.

His parents, Lamont and Esther, could not leave home without coming back to a beeping answering machine. "It's just me, Larry. Where are you guys? I just need to know that you are safe. Call when you get home."

On hot summer days, there was always the call saying, "Tell dad not to go out and work in the sun today. It is too hot."

Or on snowy days, to warn his mother not to drive to work. "Get dad to take you or stay at home," was his advice. If it turned bad while Esther was at work, the phone would ring off the hook until he knew she was safely home.

He planted fruit trees in the vacant lot beside his folks' home and came out to prune the trees each spring. They had to be done perfectly, and he would chide his dad if he felt they weren't done right. "If you are tired, just let me do it," he would say. Larry was a perfectionist in all things.

It was the same in his work at TIMET Metals Corp. The sheets of titanium had to be perfect while some would let a very small imperfection slide through. Many a foreman would say "That McCoy is on the job today" when something did not pass muster.

Larry loved to eat and adored the cooking of his two grandmothers. He liked his mother's cooking but wasn't as high in praise when she prepared a new or fancy dish for her food column.

He never wanted his name mentioned in Esther's column and when it got into the paper there was another phone call. "You have better things to write about than me," he would say.

Larry met Mary Koos and helped her raise her children. He went to Zane's school events like a proud dad, encouraged Larissa's singing until she felt confident enough to enter the school's talent contest and attended Taylor's soccer and football games in his younger years.

His brothers, Jay and Darin, with their wives, Margaret and Missy, had children. There was Amber, Jessie, Matthew, Jackson and Maggie. They lived further away but he never let a birthday go by without choosing a card perfect for them and sending money. He would panic if he thought he forgot a birthday. His Christmas money to them one year was an ornament that secretly opened. There were notes on each that read, "This is all I could afford this year." But upon closer inspection, they found a latch that opened, and there was the money.

Larry had some wonderful fishing partners, the two Tims, Buchanan and Cybulski; and cousins, Dathan and Garren. He loved talking fishing with his Uncle Dale McHugh.

Larry had a way of listening to your troubles and offering his advice, some you might not want to hear, but he told it like it was. His favorite four words to his mother when she complained about little things was "Get over it, Mom."

He had favorite uncles, Larry McCoy, his namesake; Uncle Buddy McCoy; and Uncle Roger McHugh.

Greig tells how Larry worked until darkness had settled in when they were doing farm chores. "We were tired and wanted to go home but he kept going," he said.

Larry's leaving this Earth too soon was something everyone who loved him will never get over. Those left behind can rest in peace knowing that he entered the Pearly Gates saying, "Hi, grandmas, grandpas and Jeff Bensie, his friend who died young. "It's just me Larry." His favorite phone expression.

Yes, now he is safely home.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)

 
 

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