MALONE –– If it seemed like nearly everyone in Malone –– and beyond –- knew Larry Spaulding, that wasn’t far from the truth.
Lawrence A. Spaulding, the owner of the Spaulding Funeral Home who died Tuesday a month shy of his 85th birthday, was deeply involved in many aspects of life in the region. He was a member of a number of civic organizations, including American Legion Post 219, a Malone AMVETS Post 8, the Franklin Trail Riders, Malone Rotary, New York State Funeral Director’s Association, North Star Lodge F&AM, Elm City Chapter Order of Eastern Star and the Malone Lodge of Elks, among others. He was also a director of the Franklin County Fair, a chairman of the Malone Winter Carnival in its early years and had served as Franklin County coroner.
His various roles allowed him to meet many people, and he became “a very loyal friend” to many, his children, Scott and Marcie, recalled Thursday. And he had a knack for remembering everyone’s story –– especially “nice things about so many people,” Scott said.
In some ways, he was the family’s Google, Marcie said. Whenever they needed information, they could rely on his memory to provide the answer they were seeking, she said.
Larry was “born with a real compassion for people,” Marcie said. At nearly 85, he still worked at the Spaulding Funeral Home in Malone because of his connection to people, she said.
“He wanted to help people and he just couldn’t bring himself to retire,” she said. He had a “very unique ability to comfort people” when they were experiencing one of the most wrenching times of their lives –– the death of a loved one, she said.
While Larry cared about many in the community, his family always came first, Scott and Marcie said.
He was “just an incredible father … loving and supportive,” Scott said. He recalled that whenever he and his sister came up with an idea for an adventure, rather than put the brakes on their thoughts, he would say “Hey, let’s see what’s down that road,” Scott said.
He was also very protective of his family, Marcie added. “God forbid anybody wrong his children,” she said.
As she grew older, Marcie said she came to realize “just how blessed we were as a family.”
That family expanded about 15 years ago when Larry began exploring his past. He had been adopted as an infant and only learned much later in life that he had siblings and other relatives of whom he had been unaware, Scott said. Larry “delighted in being part of a new family,” Scott said.
Those new-found family members shared in Larry’s joy, Marcie said. Many sat by his bedside during his time in the hospital and “were there every step of the way,” she said.
After his family, Larry’s greatest love was horses, his children said. He and his family showed horses throughout the northeastern U.S. and Canada, and he trained several horses that earned Registers of Merit with the American Quarter Horse Association. He was also horse show judge and served for several years as convention chairman while a member of the Empire State Quarter Horse Association.
It was horses that brought he and Susan, his wife of 58 years, together. Larry died the day after their anniversary.
Susan and her mother had wanted to go riding and had rented horses from Larry’s family’s farm, Scott explained. Larry was tasked with delivering the horses to them, a chore that introduced him to the woman who became his wife, Scott said.
Horses became a way for Larry to unwind from the stress of his other endeavors, Susan said.
Marcie told a story that illustrated Larry’s priorities.
The family had gone to a horse show in Canada, where Larry had plans to buy a colt. Susan loved black horses, so when a black colt with four white stockings came up for bid, Larry tried to buy it, but the price went beyond what he had planned to pay. Still, sitting between Susan and Marcie –– who were urging him to keep bidding –– Larry ended up buying the animal, which proved itself to be “unusually talented, Marcie said.
Larry didn’t like the horse because of what it had cost, but loved it because it loved Marcie, and she loved it, Marcie said.
Larry, who had served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957 and the reserves until 1964, was also “very passionate veteran,” Marcie said. He was involved in several local veterans organizations and he and Scott had participated in a recent Honor Flight, at which he met former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, himself a World War II combat veteran, Susan said.
His obituary, which he had written himself, asks that contributions in his memory be made to the North Country Honor Flight. That obituary appears on Page A3.
Calling hours will be held at the First Congregational Church in Malone on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 9 to 11 a.m. with services following. Spring interment will be in Morningside Cemetery.