Life is full of many twists and turns. Take it from Larry, an outgoing resident at Oakmont Sterling Assisted, adaptability and education makes getting through those changes possible.
“You have to adjust,” he said. “I don’t care what kind of work you do, you have to adjust.”
Adjust, he did. Growing up in the area of 14 Mile and Ryan roads, he was eventually drafted and served in Korea. He came back and began working in a tool and dye shop.
“I was lucky enough to get on a drafting board and get into layout, then I was able to get into Lawrence Tech for a year and two semesters,” Larry said, recalling how he went to school during the day, then worked midnights.
After a while, Larry was issued a journeyman’s card, both in tool and dye and as a machinist. “Even though I didn’t belong to a union, I got my journeyman’s card because I helped so many union workers. That was unusual for that to happen.”
If you think that’s where his professional history stayed until his retirement, well, you don’t know Larry.
Tool and dye, farming and a bakery
After a few job moves and a layoff, Larry found himself back with an earlier employer. Things were humming along there; however, he also had an uncle who bought a farm near Lansing, in Williamston.
When the uncle died, Larry found himself carrying out a deathbed wish to watch over the farm. (Since he had his own background working on a farm when he was a youngster, it wasn’t completely foreign to him). It was a large-scale 1,500-acre operation.
Oh, there was also a bakery business. But not just your run-of-the-mill bakery business. This was Oaza Bakeries, a popular Hamtramck-based bakery with 32 outlets. That created a schedule of research work during the week, plus managing both the farm and bakery.
“I expected it would be busy with the bakery, but not that busy. I was just going to be managing, but it got to be an awful lot to handle,” Larry said. “But it was a commitment I made to the uncle the night he passed away. I told him I’d take care of it until he’d get back, but he never did.”
From there, it was back to doing design work. Until one day, Chrysler Corporation called. They needed someone to work at the missile plant at 16 Mile and Van Dyke.
“I never did printed circuit boards, but I learned how to do printed circuit boards,” he said. “Sometimes, you just have to learn something new.”
Commitment to education benefits Warren schools
That penchant for learning carried over into an academic setting. Discovering his school district in Warren was considering shipping its students interested in shop class to nearby school districts, he ran for school board – on which he served for 45 years. In that time, the district was able to create its own first-rate auto shop program. For his efforts in the community, a community room was named in his honor at the newly re-opened Dorothy M. Busch Library Branch in Warren. She was his librarian as a youngster.
Larry, who was married 53 years, has three children and a deceased daughter. He moved to Oakmont Sterling Assisted more than a year ago.
“They offer everything here,” he said. “It’s a really good place to live, they keep you busy.”
Which has always suited Larry just fine.