A self-portrait of John Larew, taken on a trip to Grandfather Mountain last year.
Troutman Council honors John Larew, a dedicated volunteer and friend of many
PHOTO: John Larew served as Santa’s helper at last year’s Rotary Club pancake breakfast.
BY DEBBIE PAGE
John Larew, a local fixture in the Troutman community, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday morning, shocking a community where he was beloved.
Mayor Teross Young announced Larew’s death at Thursday's Town Council meeting, stunning many of the people in attendance.
To honor his memory, council member's voted to name the pavilion at ESC Park after Larew.
Larew, who served as the chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, worked closely with Parks and Recreation Coordinator Emily Watson, who fondly remembered her friend and colleague.
“John’s been a tireless volunteer. No matter what activity or event we needed support for, he was there to do anything he could to help, from picking up trash up and down the greenway to shuttling citizens to being our town photographer.
“He was always supportive and kind and had an encouraging attitude. You knew that John certainly loved Troutman. Anything that he could do for the town, he did,” Watson added. “There’s nobody like John Larew.”
Larew first made a name for himself by picking up trash all over the community as he rode around town on his beloved street-legal golf cart. In 2015, he joined the Parks and Recreation Committee because he wanted to get more involved. He also ran for Town Council when a seat was vacated in 2016.
Additionally, Larew was also active with Troutman Fire and Rescue and an avid supporter of the Barium YMCA. He also frequently visited downtown businesses to keep up with their concerns and news.
Larew was an avid traveler, taking many stunning photographs of the places that he visited. His adventurous side came out with his love of chasing storms and capturing their power and beauty with his camera.
After marrying his wife, Troutman native Janice, Larew made Troutman his home and served in many capacities. Each year he was Santa’s helper at the annual Rotary Club pancake breakfast prior to the Christmas parade. He volunteered in the schools and arranged share nights at the local Wendy’s and Bojangles to benefit ESC Park.
Tonya Bartlett, heartbroken at her fellow committee member and friend’s loss, last spoke to an excited Larew Tuesday night at the Parks and Recreation meeting. “He said, ‘I just retired for the second time, and I’m taking a three-month road trip.’ ”
Watson overheard Larew, responding to a friend’s inquiry of his health at the same meeting, say, “I’m doing good. Any day you wake up is a good day.”
Thoe words now serve as a poignant reminder to everyone live each day well and serve, as Larew did in his cherished community.
Larew recently served as a part-time warehouse manager at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. He was also a retired telecommunicator at Cornelius Police Departmet and also served as a telecommunicator in Iredell County.
Council members and town staff, after hearing the news in the afternoon, rallied around the idea of naming the ESC Park pavilion after Larew “in recognition of all the work John has done for the park,” Mayor Young said.
Parks and Recreation Committee members were also supportive of the idea, leading to the unanimous vote by council to move forward. The actual wording will be worked out by staff and a plaque will be created as soon as possible. Council will decide next month how to present this honor to the community and Larew’s family.
“Obviously this was a shock and surprise to all of us,” said Councilman Paul Bryant. “Here we are just twelve hours later making this memorial recommendation, which speaks highly of him.”
“He was one of the first friends that I had in this town. He was everybody’s friend in the room because he was easy to be friends with,” added Bryant. “He helped guide us and impacted our lives.”
“He was a hard worker. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a town function that he wasn’t somewhere either in the middle of or on the perimeter picking up people and transporting them down to the park” on his cart.
“I know that I will miss him and think about all he did for the town, and I look forward to seeing that plaque up on the pavilion,” Bryant concluded.
Councilman Paul Henkel lauded other acts of this generous community member.
“In addition to assisting the town in a voluntary position, he was also instrumental in the H.E.L.P. Ministries organization in this area, as well as up in Hickory helping at the organization there,” he said.
Henkel also noted his active participation at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, where Larew was in the hand bell group and served in a church volunteer position for which “he was available morning, noon, and night,” which Henkel has now been asked to assume.
Larew also sang in the choir, his booming voice a fixture of the Sunday services.
“With the town and the community in general, he was a heckuva member, volunteer, and asset to our community,” said Henkel.
“I think he would be humbled and pleased” by this honor, added Bryant.
Young smiled and responded, “Knowing John, he would say, ‘Nah, you don’t have to do that.' ”