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Robert Larson

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Robert Larson

Place of birth: Spokane, WA

Robert Larson, 82, died on October 28, 2014 while on vacation with his daughter, Stina, in Bergen, Norway. His family is deeply saddened by this unexpected loss, but are comforted knowing that he was doing what he loved in a part of the world that he cherished.

Robert was born on October 9, 1932 in Spokane, Washington to Victor and Katherine Larson, and was the eldest of four siblings. He attended Rogers High School in Spokane, WA and continued his education at Washington State University in Pullman, WA where he received his Masters degree in Pharmacology. He married Dawn Springer on September 3, 1957 and they moved to Iowa, where he earned his PhD in Pharmacology at Iowa State University. After his residency at the National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C., he moved to Oregon with his wife and eldest daughter, where he became a Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Robert had a deep appreciation for the outdoors and chose a home in the countryside of Philomath to raise his family. He was passionate about music and played the clarinet and saxophone very well. He was also interested in other cultures and loved to travel. While at OSU he took two sabbaticals with his family to conduct research at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the University of Tubingen in Germany. He and Dawn were also active in the Philomath High School American Field Service club and hosted students from Japan and Austria.

After retirement he and his wife moved to Hood River, OR and subsequently spent a year in China teaching Pharmacology with the World Health Organization. Although his wife’s death in 2002 was difficult, he stayed active and continued traveling the world. He took multiple trips with i-to-i International, traveling to South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Borneo where he volunteered with organizations rescuing animals and preserving their habitat. He enjoyed his work with i-to-i immensely and was proud to be one of the oldest volunteers – known to some as the “78 year old Lion Man.” Robert also maintained strong ties with relatives and close friends in Sweden, and travelled there whenever possible. He loved the Columbia Gorge and remained active by hiking, and especially enjoyed taking anyone who visited on tours of the area – sometimes in his convertible Camaro!

He was preceded in death by his wife, Dawn Larson, and his sister Ellen Brown. He is survived by his two sisters, Ruth Larson and Irene Wesel; his daughter Laurel Medinger, her husband Julian Medinger and their children, Mikaila, Samantha and Evan; his daughter Stina Larson and her husband Donald Kiesling Jr.; and his son Eric Larson.

We invite friends and family to join in a celebration of his life at 2pm on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at the Banks Community United Methodist Church in Banks, OR. Thoughts and memories can be shared on this site or they can be sent to Memorial donations may be made to the Dawn Joy Larson Memorial Scholarship Fund (WSU, PO Box 1495, Spokane, WA 99210-1495) or a charity of your choice.

5 Responses

  • Sarah Horspool On

    From Sarah

  • On

    An amazing volunteer

    Bob was a wonderful person and I loved hearing all his amazing stories during the time he spent at African Dawn South Africa. We still talk of him all the time about his hard work and how he was also spending time with the animals. I still remember him walking through the cheetah camp to check the animals on the other side with the cheetahs playful following him, wanting to complete every task to its fullest. My thoughts are with you all. He will always be remembered here.

  • On

    From South Africa

    Dear Stina and The Larson Family. Thinking of you during this sad time. Regards from I-to-I South Africa

  • Stina Larson On

    Tip of an Iceberg

    It is hard to condense down into a few paragraphs what this man, my dad, was to us as a family and to his profession (feel like I left out so much). I had thought I had condensed it down enough, but then I found how expensive it would be to submit this in its entirety to the newspapers, so I am very grateful for this site that allowed me to post this tribute for free. He truly lived an incredible life and I am just grateful to have had the time that I did with him. Miss him incredibly and still have so much to tell him. Wish like crazy that we could have finished our trip in the fjords. We are looking forward to reading comments to learn what he meant to others. I also think the light-a-candle feature is a nice sentiment - I will be donating some money to this organization.

  • Marti Bald echo On

    Warmth, humor and music!

    Stina, many moons ago two little girls bridged their language barriers on a train and became friends. It led to a deep friendship between two families from opposite sides do the world. I am grateful for the many years of FUN our families shared. Spending time with you guys was like Christmas...exciting and you never knew what the day would bring...from hikes and trips to dinners and sleepovers! Bob was a warm and caring man with a great love of music and a wicked sense of humor. His friendship with my father was special. I get comfort in the thought that they are again together...listening to jazz and telling jokes! Lots do love to you all and our thoughts are with you. Marit, Hanna & Emma


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