Larry Stamper. I’ve known Larry since 1958 and we’ve been friends ever since. We were both young ministers. He had started a mission church and under his leadership it became a thriving church.
A native of Muncie, Indiana he grew up in San Diego. He graduated from Pasadena Nazarene College and the Methodist Seminary in Claremont California.
Sue, Larry’s wife, was an excellent singer and died in 2007 of cancer. She had been a Vice President of the Highland Federal Bank.
Larry is the father of three children; one son and two daughters. In his early years, Larry was a very good golfer with a 10 handicap, but left that to his son, Jimmy. Jimmy was a teacher pro at the Brookside Golf Club, which is well known throughout the world. He now works at Trader Joe’s. His daughter Judie is the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Burbank.
When Larry was pastor in Orange, I was pastoring in Cypress, California. We would meet every week at the Buttery restaurant in Buena Park.
Our conversations usually focused on sermons, Scriptural analysis, sports, and above all our unhappiness with the denomination that we both belonged to.
In 1963 Larry took the leap and left the Church of the Nazarene and became a Methodist. At that time Bishop Gerald Kennedy was very accepting of Nazarene Ministers.
Larry became the Associate Minister at the South Pasadena First Methodist Church. After two years, the Bishop sent him to Granada Hill as the minister of the Knollwood Methodist Church. We kept in contact during those years In 1961 my wife, Doris, and I were the parents of Pamela.
But in 1961, September 29, we traveled to Bakersfield California with Larry. He entered the hospital and in a few minutes, he handed me the one day old baby that we named Debra. Today she is 55 years old.
After a very successful pastorate at Granada Hills, where Larry was the pastor for 5 years, the Bishop sent him to La Crescenta then to Burbank, California in 1972. He was there for 32 years.
I followed his lead in 1962 and became a Methodist Minister. Following eleven years as Methodist and a divorce I became a Congregationalist and in 1975 became the minister of the Highland United Church of Christ. (UCC)
Unfortunately, Larry and I lost contact for several years, outside of an occasional letter.
Those were dynamic and interesting years for him. The Methodist Church grew in membership and finances tremendously. He became a Civic leader and served on the Burbank City Council for one term. During that time, he was elected Mayor of Burbank for two years.
In representing the City of Burbank Larry had the opportunity of travelling to many cities in the world: Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, London plus many others. He certainly knows his politics.
A side benefit for Larry’s political prominence is the relationship with prominent people. He has become friends with many. He performed the wedding ceremony for Gene Autry and his wife and many others.
For years, he has been called by Forest Lawn to have funerals for many celebrities. A by-product of his prominence is his being chosen to be the executor of almost 15 million dollars’ worth of real estate and dozens of businesses.
Other celebrities that he knew and has known personally are: Debbie Reynolds, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, and many others.
He has also played golf behind Bill Clinton at Lakeside Golf Club.
For the last 8 years he and Lynda have been an item. They travel together and eat together. I’ve asked him why they don’t get married and his answer routinely is, “Why ruin a good thing?”
With all of his achievements as a politician, a business man, a socialite, a father and a friend, my personal opinion is his success as a preacher and public speaker. He excels in it.
He communicates. Larry has a wit and insight that is outstanding. He remembers more bits of humor than I’ve ever read. It’s his insights into Scripture that makes him such an excellent preacher. The same applies to his insight into political issues.
Larry is a survivor. The death of his wife was devastating, but he has survived it.
He has survived cancer. His knowledge about the causes and cures of cancer is impressive. This also is applicable to his current problem, Spinal Stenosis. He also has a pacemaker. He is a survivor of what every senior must deal with, which is, “what do I do with my life, now that I’m getting older?” He has a writing skill that reflects his philosophy. “I believe that money does not bring happiness. Love, family and my faith does.” Again, he is fond of quoting Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “You are entitled to your own opinions; but you are not entitled to your own set of facts.”
Larry at age 82 has his agenda pretty well planned. He’ll continue being the executor of the million-dollar account. And he has already made plans to spend an extensive trip to China this coming October. (Hawaii in May). Of course, with Lynda. And finish the book he has started writing.
My best wish is that Larry is able to drive and visit with me as often as he can. And live a long healthy time.
Amen. Selah. So be it.