Lawrence "Larry" Walter Gates, 93, passed peacefully away into God's hands on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 after a brief illness. Larry was born into one of Avon Lake's oldest families and was proud of that legacy in Avon Lake and Avon, where his family settled after coming from Bavaria, Germany in 1832.
As a young boy and well into adulthood, he worked the Gates Family Vineyards, a commercial grape and berry producer for approximately 100 years. Larry attended St. Mary's Elementary School in Avon, the church his family help build, where he served as an Alter Boy. After graduation from St. Mary's, he entered Avon Lake High School, serving as the Football Team Manager and graduated, Class of 1943. He also attended Ohio State University.
Upon graduation, Larry enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on July 5, 1943 and was accepted into Cadet School where he graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant Bombardier Navigator on March 28, 1945, flying in the B24 Liberator. He was Honorably Discharged from the Army on April 19, 1946. He again was called to duty in the U.S. Air Force Reserve during the Korean War and was Honorably Discharged May 23, 1955.
Larry and his wife, Lil had three daughters who became the center of their lives. Weekends were reserved for family, with trips to museums, hiking, canoeing, golf and many adventures and vacations.
Until his retirement 30 years ago, Larry enjoyed the reputation as a high quality home builder for over 40 years with an estimate that he built and remodeled approximately 1000 homes in our area. He was a tough leader who taught integrity, perseverance and a disciplined work ethic. He felt honored and proud to have trained many young people who went on to be accomplished builders, business people and academics. He taught his three daughters practical skills and when they bought their own homes he made certain to work on them. Larry also taught these traits to his grandson, Matt after he and Lynn relocated back to Avon Lake and was the greatest Grampa.
After retiring from the building trade, Larry went on to be a First Mate on a fishing charter boat at Drawbridge Marina in Port Clinton, thus feeding his love of fishing. He was also an avid ice fisherman and hunter. Also at that time, Larry began prolifically painting watercolors, primarily of coastal scenes and landscapes, until his death. His paintings grace many collections from Alaska to Africa. He was a lifelong gardener, photographer, great cook and voracious reader and with his wife, Lil spent their retirement years traveling both domestically and internationally.
He was a member of St. Joseph's Parish in Avon Lake and Ushered Sunday Mass for 50 years.
The following are a few lines from writer Jack London's "Credo" that Larry lived by. "The function of a man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time". And that he did. Now he has joined his wife, Lil, family and good friends by walking into theirs and God's loving arms.
He was preceded in death by his father, Gervas P. Gates and mother, Mary Ann "Molly" Gates; sister, Elaine (Roland) Dietrich; his wife of 61 years, Lillian "Lil" (nee Stanek) Gates and nephew, David Dietrich.
Surviving are his daughters, Lorene Gates-Spears (Jackson E. Spears, Jr.) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Avon Lake, Lynn Gates Maroon of Avon Lake and Lanette Armbruster (Robert) of Medina; his much loved grandson, Matthew L. Maroon of Malawi, Africa and Lawrence W. Kondowe of Dayton. Larry will also be greatly missed by many loving nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held Friday, March 1, 2019 from 4 until 8 P.M. at Busch Funeral Home, 163 Avon Belden Road, Avon Lake. A Mass will be held Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 10 A.M. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 32946 Electric Blvd., Avon Lake. Larry will be buried with a Military Committal Service at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, joining Lil, at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made to Determined To Develop, a 501(c)3 charitable organization his grandson Matt started and continues to run in Africa whose mission is to feed and educate orphans, both boys and girls in Malawi, Africa. 100% of the donations reach the children. Larry had several "kids" he sponsored. Donations can be sent to Determined to Develop, 143 Woodstock Dr., Avon Lake, OH 44012.