MARYSVILLE Levi Larson left this world impatiently, checking his watch as he waited for the Grim Reaper.
Thats the Gods honest truth, according to his son Dale, who said this citys most famous centenarian couldnt wait to end his time on Earth, looking forward to the better life he had preached to congregations all of his life.
Levi Larson passed away just after midnight on Wednesday, Sept. 5, about three months short of his 101st birthday. As recently as a year ago the Lake Stevens native was driving himself to the Everett Bible study he taught, but his body slowed down long before his heart and mind did. It was only in late June and early July that health problems surfaced, sidelining him but not getting him down.
Larson knew his time was up, according to family friend Ron Munroe, who visited him in the Everett care facility where he lived until being moved to a private home in Woodinville. Before that Larson lived at the Merrill Gardens retirement community in Marysville.
Dale Larson said his father was impatient for the end to come, and lived every moment as he had preached for the last 84 years since he found God. Larson was literally laughing as he described his fathers last days, when Levi would be looking around and checking his watch as if he had somewhere to go, someone to see.
When they tell you I am gone, dont cry, but rejoice because I am more alive than I have ever been, Larson said shortly before his demise with children Dale and Brenda at his bedside. He was also survived by children Judi and David and 10 grandchildren.
Larson was married to his wife Esther for 64 years when she passed away almost two years ago, and he spent 46 years in the active ministry, maintaining a heavy schedule of speaking and teaching engagements after his retirement. He was pastor of Marysville First Assembly during the 1940s and 50s, then later in the 60s and 70s.
His greatest pride was opening a Tacoma canteen for servicemen about to be shipped off to fight in World War II. The dose of religion those men got at Larsons mission was the last word many of those men got before meeting their maker, Larson said in an interview last December. He started the canteen on a shoestring, relying on prayers and contributions to the offering plate to sustain the storefront operation for the next three years. Glitzy churches and well-heeled congregations could not compete with the solemn memories of the scared soldiers and sailors Larson prayed with in that modest chapel across the street from the bus station.
Larson got his start working with the downtrodden, giving his first sermon to a Skid Row ministry and continuing until earlier this summer.
All I can say is that Ive lost another port in the storm, but my loss is his gain, Munroe said as he remembered his friend.
Dale Larson said his father didnt suffer at the end, and from time to time considered hastening his end by refusing food. Halfway through a meal Larson would pause and shake his head, saying that eating was just prolonging his time here.
He had better things to do, Dale Larson said.
Laughing at death was something his father would do, because of his firm beliefs and positive attitude, his son added.
A memorial celebration will be held Friday, Sept. 14, 7 p.m., at Marysville First Assembly, 4707 Grove Street, Marysville.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the Marysville First Assembly building fund for the Levi and Esther Larson, Quest Ministries, or another worthy charity.
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