Larson, Robert P.
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Yarmouth Port, MA: Robert P. Larson died peacefully at home in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, on February 23, 2014. He was ninety-six years old. Bob and his wife, Jessie, moved to Cape Cod twenty years ago from Glens Falls, New York, following Bob's retirement as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of directors of the Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company.
A banker for forty-five years, Bob believed that a bank's success depended on its ability to establish a trusting relationship with the customers and community it served. When asked once why he chose banking as a career, Bob replied simply that he enjoyed "the people" with whom he came into contact. He thought that a bank and a community should grow together and that the economic foundation provided by a local bank was essential to that growth. Knowing the region's people, being familiar with their priorities, and understanding their challenges were key underpinnings to successful banking.
In building a bank and a community, Bob focused on incremental steps and specific goals. And while proud to open a new branch, add a drive-up window, or install a new time and temperature clock, Bob's highest priorities were quality customer service and a commitment to advance the careers of the bank's employees. In his twenty-year "retirement" on Cape Cod, Bob continued to stay in touch with many of the people with whom he had worked, taking great pleasure in their promotions and other personal accomplishments.
In addition to his bank service, Bob was active in the Greater Glens Falls region, serving as president of the Glens Falls Rotary Club; as a director of the Tri-County United Way, the Glens Falls Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Glens Falls YMCA, the Glens Falls Community Workshop, the Glens Falls Navy League, and the Glens Falls Country Club; as a trustee of the Mohican Council, Boy Scouts of America; and as a member of the Warren County Planning Board. During his retirement, he kept current with these many former affiliations by reading the minutes of their meetings and the reports of their activities.
Also active in state banking and business groups, Bob served as a director of the New York Business Development Corporation and the Empire State Chamber of Commerce. He also served as vice-chairman of the New York State Bankers' Association Group 5. He was among the first to attain certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and he was an active and long-standing member of the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts.
Especially committed to higher education, Bob helped establish the Adirondack Community College Foundation in the early 1980s. He also served as a trustee of Skidmore College and as a trustee of the University of Rochester, where he graduated in 1939 as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. While an undergraduate, Bob played halfback on the university's football team, ran on the track team, and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Many years later, Bob received the University of Rochester Citation to Alumni and was also named an honorary trustee. He had many other strong connections to the school: his father, Arthur H. Larson, served for twenty-five years as the registrar of the university's Eastman School of Music; his step-mother, Flora Burton, served as the dean of the Eastman School; and his younger sister, Betty Tellier, his daughter, Barbara Stoner, and his granddaughter Megan Stoner all graduated from the school.
Aside from his professional and civic interests, Bob had a lifelong passion for the study of foreign languages that started when he was tutored in French as a young boy. In college, Bob majored in French and German, receiving a French Exchange Fellowship that provided the means by which he was able to study and work abroad for two summers. Following graduation, Bob's fluency in Spanish led to a position in the International Division of the First National City Bank of New York in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
During World War II, Bob put his banking career on hold to enlist in the U.S. Navy. He served on active duty from 1941 until 1946, including service as a member of a secret organization known as the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO). SACO combined Chinese and American forces, predominantly Navy and Marine Corps servicemen, to perform intelligence and guerilla operations in Japanese-held China. SACO forces established weather stations to benefit the Pacific Fleet, intercepted Japanese code reporting on enemy shipping, rescued scores of downed aviators, and performed other military, medical, and humanitarian duties. Like many other veterans who performed intelligence duties during World War II, Bob would reply "nothing" when asked what he had done in China. Today, Chinese textbooks publicly credit SACO for its significant contribution to the ultimate defeat of the Japanese invasion.
Bob attained the rank of lieutenant commander, and he served six more years, from 1947 to 1952, in the Naval Reserve. Toward the end of his active military service, he met Jessie Evaline Poole, also a naval officer, while stationed in Newport, Rhode Island. They married in 1945 and moved to Puerto Rico in 1946 when Bob resumed his banking career with the First National City Bank of New York. Their first child, Barbara, was born in San Juan in 1947. The bank promoted Bob to a post in Medellín, Colombia. In 1948, the family returned to the United States where Bob was employed as a vice-president with the Security Trust Company of Rochester, New York. The family lived in Fairport, New York, and Bob was active as a director of the Rochester School for the Deaf, as a trustee of the First Congregational Church of Fairport, as a member of the Alliance Française, and as a member of the Order of the DeMolay. In 1949, Bob and Jessie's son, Allen, was born. Twelve years later, in 1961, the Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company hired Bob as the bank's executive vice-president and director. He worked for the bank for the next twenty-five years.
In retirement, Bob continued to study languages at Cape Cod Community College. He played golf year-round with a passion for the fresh air and friendships that the game offers. Invariably, he walked the course, believing this activity was the key to longevity. And while no longer competing in the finals of a club championship, as he had at the Glens Falls Country Club, Bob continued to shoot his age well into his nineties, which impressed him less as his age increased.
Bob's wife, Jessie, predeceased him in 2009. Daughter Barbara Stoner lives in Rochester, New York, and has three children: Shannan Marshall, Megan Stoner, and Ryan Stoner. In December of 2013, Bob was saddened by the premature death from cancer of Shannan's husband, Brian Marshall, the father of two of Bob's great-grandsons, Colin and Connor Marshall. Megan Stoner and Manuel Espaillat are the parents of Bob's third great-grandson, Nicholas Espaillat. Bob's grandson Ryan lives in Rochester with his fiancé Sommer Slavin. Bob's son Allen and daughter-in-law Gloria reside in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.
The family is planning a memorial service to be held later this summer. Bob will be buried with his wife, Jessie, at the Woodside Cemetery in Yarmouth Port.
Published in Rochester Democrat And Chronicle on Mar. 16, 2014