Larry Brian Walke, a prominent Lincoln City Realtor and avid outdoorsman, died at home on Friday, June 29. He was 54.
Born in Hastings, Mich., on Jan.14, 1958, Larry found an escape from the hard life of his childhood in the local woods and waterways where his grandfather taught him to fish and hunt. He exhibited his business savvy and winning ways with customers at a young age by digging worms and selling them to anglers. He met a cute freshman in high school and went steady for a couple of years until a move separated the couple, who would meet again and marry decades later.
After high school and a brief job in Detroit, Larry went to San Diego to visit his brother, H.B., and ended up calling the sunny California city home for 23 years. He worked briefly for a newspaper, but it was his strong jaw and eye-catching good looks that took him in new directions. After interviewing at a modeling agency, he became a sought-after face whose assignments took him to Europe. He lived in Paris, France, and Milan, Italy for several years before returning to the U.S., where he began a career as a working actor in commercials, TV dramas and movies.
Some of his memorable roles were in the crime drama Silk Stockings that debuted in 1991, Simon & Simon, Hart to Hart and the blockbuster movie, Top Gun. While the roles were minor, Larry relished telling behind-the-scenes stories about the moviemaking business.
He turned back to the business world in his 30s, becoming an expert in payroll management in North Carolina for large corporations. Reconnecting with his high school sweetheart on a class-reunion web site, he and Ellen rekindled their passion and were married in 2005. On trips to Oregon to visit Ellen's family, the two fell in love with a vacation home in the Salishan Hills. They bought it, then cast their lot at the Oregon coast three years later where Larry became a successful and highly productive Realtor at Coldwell Banker Gesik in Lincoln City. He was respected by colleagues and adored by many clients for his doting attention to detail and unflinching integrity.
After 20 years of sales management experience, he said in a newspaper interview, I learned that customer service is one's only sustainable competitive advantage.
Larry enjoyed stories of Native Americans and shared their respect for the land and animals. Knowing the importance of father figures, he spent time as a mentor to young boys and showing them how to operate a kayak, identify bald eagles and spot a coyote in the brush. He was a tough opponent on the tennis and basketball court, and loved to play golf or caddy for Ellen.
Larry's ambition was to become a pillar of the community, and, as his affluence grew, to give back. For that reason, the family has asked that remembrances, rather than flowers, be made in Larry's name to any of the following organizations:
Marine Mammal Stranding Fund (OSU), 800-354-7281, or go to osufoundation.org/giving/online_gift;
HELP-Homeless Program, 541-996-4878, or got to Lincoln.k12.or.us;
or Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Newport Field Office, 2127 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport OR 97365.
A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. in the west side Salishan Community Center at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 7.