Editorial by Earl Watt
Publisher, High Plains Daily Leader
After reading a story in the paper one day, Larry gave me a call.
“Earl, what are you celebrating?” he would say, and I knew he was going to give me his two cents on an article that he thought could have been done differently.
It was his way of saying, “What are you thinking?” He didn’t call just to beat me up on an article. “Let me tell you the other side of the story,” he would say.
And he usually knew not only the other side, but several other sides, because Larry knew everyone, and everyone felt comfortable talking to Larry.
“Let me help you out here, Earl,” he would continue, always being the coach and mentor, providing guidance where he felt it was needed.
But Larry wasn’t the kind of guy that complained about a lot of things.
Always looking forward, he didn’t dwell on what happened yesterday but what would be happening tomorrow.
Several years ago we crossed paths on the sidewalk on Kansas Avenue, and in that one conversation we became associated at the newspaper.
It isn’t fair to say that Larry worked for me, because Larry was the kind of guy that brought more to the table than he ever received.
It didn’t matter what organization it was, Larry made it better.
When he worked for the paper, he increased sales and met goals. His day didn’t fit into the comfy nine to five window. He did whatever needed to be done, whenever it needed to be done.
When Larry and I attended a Downtown Business Association meeting, and the Christmas Parade needed a new sponsor, we stepped up to take it.
But Larry’s vision eclipsed my own with what we could do with it.
He wanted to give away a car, and I wasn’t sure how we were going to justify that.
He penciled it out, and sure enough, it could be done.
He took that same can-do attitude with him wherever he went. No challenge was too great, no organization without the ability to be better.
And he expected better from those around him.
As Chamber president, he set a goal that was truly a model of himself — Reach New Heights.
Larry was always about climbing the mountain, about pushing the limits and stretching.
If criticism came, he saw it as an opportunity to reach out to someone by listening and trying to address their concerns. He didn’t dismiss any of it. He was a problem solver.
And he didn’t check his faith or integrity at the door in the name of “getting ahead” in business. His actions were honorable, and his heart was always in the right place.
He was one of the good guys.
Those that were around him know that he enjoyed a good joke and a laugh, but don’t let it keep the work from getting done.
It seems unfair that someone who was dedicated to making Liberal better, that chose to get involved and make a difference rather than complain and fight against progress, would become a statistic in the fight against H1N1.
While the fatal epidemic may have ended his life too soon, it cannot take away the impact Larry Howell had on his community. The virus cannot strip away the conversations, the guidance and the principles he shared every day, always learning, always teaching.
I believe he would expect us to continue the effort he had started, whether it be in our churches, organizations or jobs. And one day, if we follow his lead, we will talk with him again.