Well-known Scout leader dies at 69

Published 9:15 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2011

For Gerry Larson, getting dressed up was donning a Hawaiian shirt and khakis, having a good day meant surfing for deals at Sam’s Club, and spending time with his family was of paramount importance.


“He was definitely a larger than life type of person,” said Lori Palagyi, Larson’s oldest daughter. “He was special to a lot of people. It’s hard to believe he’s gone.”

After a short battle with cancer, Larson passed away July 2 at the age of 69. Larson was admitted to the hospital just 13 days before he died.

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Larson, who lived off Wilroy Road, was a retired Virginia Beach Fire Department battalion chief and a former member of the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team, now called SEAL Team 4.

After his retirement, Larson dedicated most of his time to his family.

Larson and his wife, Beverly, have three daughters — Lori, Lee Ann and Kelly — and 15 grandchildren, ranging from 8 weeks to 20 years old.

One of Larson’s main commitments was activities with the Driver-based Cub Scout Pack 89, in which two of his grandsons are currently enrolled.

He served as leader for his grandson Luka’s Tiger den this year, but it wasn’t the first time he had been in the position.

Of Larson’s 15 grandchildren, 10 are boys.

Even before he had children, Larson has always supported the Boy Scouts of America, and he has worked with several of his grandsons in both Cub and Boy Scouts.

In fact, two of Larson’s grandsons have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest level in Boy Scouts.

Jeff Ward, Cubmaster for Pack 89, said Larson was an extremely active member in the organization.

“Gerry was super dedicated to the cause,” he said. “We could always count on him to be there.”

Ward said Larson went through all five of the Cub Scout levels three times with different grandsons.

Ward worked with Larson for the past five years with Cub Scouts, and he said Larson had a huge impact on both his grandsons and all the other boys he worked with.

“He’ll be gravely missed,” Ward said. “Gerry can’t be replaced. He was with us too long and offered too much to the program to be replaced.”

Palagyi said even before he had children, her father volunteered as a Scoutmaster for a Boy Scout troop in Minnesota, where he was born.

“He felt like it was a very worthwhile organization,” she said.

Palagyi added his passion for the organization rubbed off of his grandsons, and Larson was always there for them for support and guidance.

Larson also worked with his granddaughter’s Girl Scout troop.

In addition to his work with the Scouts, Palagyi said Larson loved to travel.

She remembers being a little girl and going on road trips to several states at a time. She said she has been to every state east of the Mississippi because of her dad’s love for travel.

Larson was also an active member at Faith Lutheran Church on Bridge Road, where he became well-known for wearing Hawaiian shirts during Sunday service.

In the months before his passing, Palagyi said most people would have never guessed her father was experiencing any pain because he went about his usual busy schedule.

“He would just say he had some pain, but he wouldn’t go on about it,” she said. “He never let it stop him. He just kept going.”

Palagyi said his passing was unexpected, but she feels lucky to have been able to spend time with him.

“We’re holding up really good,” she said. “There’s just going to be a big hole in our lives for a while.”

A funeral will be held for Larson Friday at 12:30 p.m. at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church.