On September 12, 2013, at home and surrounded by his family, Larry Alan Spencer passed away peacefully. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 17, 1950, to William and Elaine Spencer. As a child, he demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit that would be an integral part of his identity, selling light bulbs door-to-door to supplement his paper route income, because they were easy to carry, and because, he reasoned, "everybody needs light bulbs." He was also a proud member of the Boy Scouts of America, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, and played clarinet and saxophone.
Larry continued his education at Mankato State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies. He served two terms as president of the student senate and engaged in political activity on behalf of his fellow students. He actively protested U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, to which he was a conscientious objector. It was in Mankato that he met his future wife, Carola Thompson, and many lifelong friends, including Rick Purves, Larry Streuber, and Gary Youngquist, who also made their homes in Juneau.
He moved to Alaska in 1978 and worked for the Alaska DOT, before going into business on his own, eventually partnering with Bruce Denton to form Senate Properties. The two built the Crow Hill condominiums and the original SEARHC clinic, renovated the historic Senate building downtown, and established three locations of Juneau Self Storage. He also worked as a residential and commercial real estate agent and property manager as the broker for Spencer Realty.
On September 29, 1984, nearly fifteen years after they first met, Larry married the love of his life, Carola Thompson. Together they raised two children, Elysia Sophia (Sophie) and Logan Robert William Spencer, both of whom could often be seen riding on his shoulders. He was a natural parent, and loved to join his children in their activities. He partnered with Sophie to take Suzuki violin lessons, played catch with Logan, and enjoyed reading and taking naps with both. They knew that he was a softie; when Carola said no to something, he was the one to approach, with a carefully concocted "Daddy, please?"
Larry had many passions. He loved to play and be silly, and he adored all children. He enjoyed scuba diving, skiing, and other outdoor activities, travel, gardening, having coffee with friends, reading "the funnies" in the newspaper, helping with Rotary work projects, and the feeling of "making the deal." He was known for always having an opinion to offer, whether asked for or not, and for his rambling, slightly embellished brand of storytelling. He was proud of his family, and loved his loyal dogs Incense and Rusty.
Larry was known for his generosity and often gave back to the home city and state he loved. He served as president of the board of Perseverance Theatre, of which he was also a founder, and of the Downtown Business Association. He also served as chair of the Alaska Real Estate Commission and as a member of the Alaska Committee to Keep the Capitol in Juneau, the Downtown Juneau Rotary club
, the Treadwell Arena advisory board, and the Juneau Youth Services board. In 2010, he was named Southeast Alaska's Realtor of the Year.
In the fall of 2008, Larry was diagnosed with brain cancer. He lived and worked with the disease for five years, refusing to allow it to keep him from the things he loved: his family and friends, his work, and his passions. His grace, perseverance and courage touched everyone in his life. Preceded in death was his older brother, Robert. Larry is survived by his wife, Carola Thompson, children Dr. E. Sophie Spencer (Dr. Mo Ashraf), of Chapel Hill, NC, and Logan Spencer, of Washington, DC, parents, William and Elaine Spencer, of St. Louis Park, MN, brothers Michael (Jane) Spencer, of Minneapolis, MN, and Douglas (Anne) Spencer, of St. Paul, MN, and many cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws.
A celebration of Larry's life will be held at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center (JACC) at 4:00 p.m. on October 5, 2013. Friends are asked to bring photographs or written stories to share with the family. No mourning colors are needed. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Larry's memory to Perseverance Theatre at 914 3rd Street, Douglas, AK 99824. The family can be contacted at 336 Highland Drive, Juneau, AK 99801.