Harold John Larsson passed away peacefully at his home on Floras Lake in Langlois, Ore., surrounded by his family.
Harold, “Hal,” was born to Cora and John Larsson in New York City where he spent his entire childhood. He attended La Salle Academy in New York. After graduation from high school, he attended Fordham University, in the Bronx, until World War II interrupted his education. Hal joined the service. He served as a medic until he saw a recruitment announcement for pilots for the Army-Air Corps, and, with a sense of duty and adventure, he signed up. As a lieutenant in the Army-Air Corp, he flew 50 missions in Europe.
After the war ended, Hal resumed his education on the Montgomery G.I. Bill attending Columbia University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in biology. Later in life he attended Harvard University where he attained a second master’s degree in mathematics.
He met his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Larsson, also a veteran, in an anthropology class at Columbia. They married on Sept. 13, 1949. After completing their educations, they moved to California, living in Pasadena for short time and then San Juan Capistrano. Together, Hal and Betty adopted three young siblings whom they would raise lovingly as their own; Eric, Morning Star, and Carole. In 1958, the whole family moved to Laguna Beach, where Hal and Betty would live for over 40 years.
Hal was a lifelong learner and teacher. He began his career as a teacher of biology and mathematics at San Juan Capistrano High School, before becoming a professor of astronomy at San Diego State University and Imperial Valley College. After retirement from his posts at these colleges, he taught at Vincent Memorial High School in Calexico, until he finally retired from teaching in 2000 at the age of 81. Some of his longest lasting relationships were with his former students, many of whom still called him weekly well in to his 90s.
He was a great lover of music and a practiced classical pianist. He spent most of his life as a swimmer, jogger, and cyclist. He also had a famous sense of humor: when asked what his secret to a long life was, he often replied, “luck.” He always listened with intent, making everyone he met feel heard and important. A common theme directing his life was his generosity and compassion for others.
In 1999, he purchased a retirement home on Floras Lake in Langlois, Ore. In 2012, he made this his permanent home with his daughter and caregiver, Morning Star. He loved the intimate community with neighbors, who were like family. He loved the sound of the Oregon rain on his roof at night.
He is survived by his three children, Eric Larsson, Morning Star Holmes and Carole Boaz; eight grandchildren; 15 great grandchildren; and numerous friends.
The world is a better place because he was here.