Balmoral Park (1/14/12)
Contact: Tom Kelley
BOB LARRY, 87, DIES
Bob Larry, a longtime fixture in the race offices of several Chicagoland Standardbred tracks, passed away on Friday, Jan. 13.
Larry, who’s last position was as Assistant Racing Secretary at Maywood Park, lived and worked in the Chicagoland area his entire life. Born in Oak Park, Illinois and one of three siblings, Bob always had a smiling face to greet horsemen for some seven decades.
After graduating from Proviso High School in Maywood, Illinois, which was just a few miles down the road from Maywood Park, he then attended Northwestern University for two years while planning to make accounting his major. “Uncle Sam” came calling in the early 1940s and by the end of 1942 Bob was a proud member of the United States Army Air Corp. He spent the next three years as a pilot preparing to fly B 24s and in January of 1945 found himself flying these World War II bombers in runs from England to France and Denmark.
When the war ended Larry found himself looking for employment. After strolling over to nearby Maywood Park he found a job as a parking attendant at the then newly opened racetrack in 1946. He also doubled as one of three timers the half-mile oval.
In 1947 Bob also went to work as the assistant horsemen’s bookkeeper for Sportsman’s Park after a chance meeting with Charlie Bidwell in a local watering hole.
When the Korean War began, Bob was recalled for duty in 1950 and was assigned to Okinawa as a co-pilot on a B 29 for six months on bomber command. After that stint he returned stateside and back to Maywood Park in his previous positions. He also landed jobs with Ted Leonard and John Jenuine as Racing Secretary of Suburban Downs (then raced at Maywood Park) in 1955, and as an association judge. He also worked in the mutuel department in the afternoons.
Bob married his wife Alice in 1958 and soon was a proud papa to son Robert and daughter Karen. By 1959 Larry had also secured a position as associate judge at Aurora Downs through his friendship with Pete Langley.
During the 1960s Bob was working at nearly all of the Chicagoland harness racing venues.
Larry continued to work tirelessly often pulling “triple headers” between racetracks.
“I’ve always worked somewhere at some track,” Bob noted in an interview for Odds On Racing back in 2005. “I’ve worked in nearly every department at every track but my favorite place to be was always in the race office. The people you deal with there are what I enjoyed the most and for the most part you are allowed to work independently in there which I also liked.”
Balmoral Park and Maywood Park racing analyst Mike Antonaides summed it up best when asked to describe his memories of Larry.
“The greatness of the man was that he went out of his way to make sure he helped so many people in the racing industry,” he said. “These were people that he knew could offer him nothing in return except for a smile and that is what Bob enjoyed the most. He was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever met and he truly will be missed.”
Visitation is on Monday, January 16 at Redeemer Lutheran Church at 9:00 am followed by funeral service at 10:30 am.
Redeemer Lutheran Church
139 East 1st Street
Hinsdale, IL 60521-4256