Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — BEULAH — Lawrence Otto Garber passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on July 26, 2013, after a courageous battle with esophageal cancer.
Larry was born on April 4, 1933, in Muskegon to Frank and Ellen Garber. He attended school in North Muskegon. He graduated from Albion College where he met his future wife, Martha Doty. They married in 1956. Larry graduated from Wayne State University Medical School in 1959, followed by an internship in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a fifth-generation Garber physician.
Larry joined the Army in 1960 and was stationed in Poitiers, France, as a Captain overseeing a medical unit. He returned to Detroit and completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency at Crittenton Hospital. Larry was the first OB/GYN in Cadillac and delivered over 6,000 babies. He loved being a part of this special time in his patients’ lives. While in Cadillac, Larry was Chief of Staff at Mercy Hospital for many years and served on the Cadillac School Board.
Larry grew up on Muskegon Lake in a family of avid sailors and was sailing alone at age seven. Wanting to instill that love of sailing in others, he bought a marina in Cadillac where he and Martha and their children taught sailing lessons and raced Sidewinder sailboats. He ordered one of the first production Windsurfers and enjoyed windsurfing into his 70s. Larry crewed in the Chicago-Mac and Port Huron-Mac sailboat races for 15 years.
In 1988, Larry and Martha pursued their lifelong dream of living aboard a cruising sailboat. They sold their home in Cadillac and spent 10 years cruising their Bayfield 36 in the Caribbean Sea, including the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Venezuela. During this time, Larry spent half the year volunteering as a physician in the Indian Health Service in Montana, Arizona and New Mexico.
In 2001, Larry and Martha sailed their Outbound 44 sailboat down the Pacific Coast to Mexico and spent a winter in the Sea of Cortez. Their last major trip was a five-month voyage from Frankfort to the Bahamas via the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. In their 15 years aboard, they sailed over 40,000 miles.
After retiring to Platte Lake, Larry built two cedar strip-plank canoes, which he and Martha paddled every morning. He also built wooden kayaks and dinghies with several of his grandchildren. Larry loved to watch the sunset aboard his last boat project, a 17’ electric launch. Larry was happiest when his Platte Lake cottage was filled with his kids and grandkids enjoying the lake. When Larry wasn’t on the water he loved to bike, hike and ski. He was a regular at Crystal Mountain and made annual ski trips out West. He was also an avid traveler who visited all seven continents and always had a plan for the next trip.
Larry loved Benzie County and volunteered at Platte River School, the Betsie Valley Trail, Point Betsie Lighthouse and served on the board of BACN (Benzie Area Christian Neighbors). He was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. The mission of the Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) was a perfect match for Larry’s love of sailing, children and Lake Michigan. For over 15 years, he volunteered as board member, crew member and instructor on the Schoolship, where children learn to be good stewards of the Lakes through hands-on experiences. Thanks to Larry’s financial support, all fifth and sixth graders in Frankfort and Benzie enjoy this annual field trip aboard Inland Seas.
Larry is survived by his wife, Martha of 57 years; daughters, Liz (Peter) Bruning, Marty (John) Thiede, Susan (Todd) Vigland; daughter-in-law, Amy Garber; eight grandchildren, Nick and Andrew Bruning, Ben and David Thiede, and Michael, Lawrence, Emily and Jacob Garber; his sister, Ellen Simmons; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Frank; and his beloved son, David, who died of cancer in 2003.
Larry’s family is grateful for the support of their extended family and friends during his illness.
A celebration of Larry’s life will be held at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Beulah on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 11 a.m. Visitation will be held at the same location on Friday, Aug. 2, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Memorial tributes may be made to ISEA or BACN. Please share thoughts with the family at www.bennett-barzfuneralhome.com.
The family is being served by Bennett-Barz Funeral Home in Beulah.