By staff member Jennifer Massaro —
It was a cold, overcast morning when I went to visit our featured resident, Larry Murdock. The chill of the day that had me shaking was instantly gone upon walking into Larry’s villa. Not only for the obvious reason, the heat being on, but also the warmth Larry’s décor provides, as well as the genuine smile and friendly greeting he bestows upon you when entering his home.
Larry grew up in Waynesburg, a small town in Southwestern Pennsylvania, near West Virginia. He attended Waynesburg College (now University), where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English, before moving to Ohio to attend Ohio University, where he obtained his master’s degree. While a student at Waynesburg College, Larry worked in the registrar’s office for four years — a job that would later lead to a career.
After graduating, Larry says he was very naïve, writing to 80 schools to show his interest in finding a job and explaining why they had to have him. Although naïve, it worked! These letters led to three interviews and three job offers — he ultimately picked Denison University. When asked why, Larry explained he enjoyed the small college campus, the ability for growth as well as the personal interactions he would be able to have with students. Larry spent 37 wonderful years at Denison, retiring in 2008 as the Registrar for the campus.
Along the way, Larry found many interest and hobbies, some turning into passions. When asked, he first brought up music and theater. Music was softly playing in the background and there were references to music everywhere in his home, including a wonderful, framed poem titled “I Am Music.” Larry shared this interest with his late wife, Susie, who was, among many other things, a music and piano teacher. Licking County has a lot to offer to theatre- and concert-goers, and Larry is a big supporter of the arts community. He mentioned Weathervane (a local playhouse), the Heisey Wind Ensemble and the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra.
Since 1978, Larry has been a weaver, and he will have an exhibition of his weavings in the Kendal at Granville art exhibit in March. He also enjoys cooking and entertaining — I have been a guest of his in the past and I can attest to this being something he is very good at — and likes to read and dabbles in writing.
Larry moved to Kendal on Oct. 19, 2017, a date he quickly and joyfully recalled. He moved from Newark, Ohio. However, he called Heath home longer, living there for 40 years. He said Kendal “has been a good move,” and noted that he moved after the loss of his wife. He missed the interaction he had with her and said that living at Kendal gave this back to him to a certain degree. He mentioned that although he had to downsize a little, he finds his new home to be very spacious, allowing him to entertain, cook and have a studio for his loom and weavings. He was also able to bring pieces and memories of his prior home with him, including a custom-built stone wall and three custom-made angels.
When asked what his favorite thing about Kendal is, Larry took a second to reflect. He first shared his enjoyment of the after-dinner programming here. He enjoys the variety of programs offered and mentioned a recent presentation on “Fiddler on the Roof” by Dennis Kohler (a local gentleman involved with the theater), the German children of World War II (as told by a woman who grew up in Germany during that time) and the Newark jail’s history and preservation. Larry quickly added he also enjoys the warmness of the community and the sense of family among residents and staff alike. He explained that as you walk around the community everyone greets one another and people genuinely like being here — whether they live here or work here.
After interviewing Larry, I was dreading going outside and facing the elements. As I left his villa, the sun began to pop through the clouds. Although the sun was beautiful and welcome, it was still cold outside. However, I was still warm from my visit with Larry … and from the memory of a delicious bowl of Santa Fe bean soup Larry had made for several of us upon his move to the community late last year. I am eagerly awaiting his next lunch gathering!