FORT WORTH-Larry Schuessler passed away on a muggy Sunday morning, August 19, 2018, following a short but devastating illness.
Memorial service: Friday, August 31, 2018, at 3:30 p.m., in the Chapel, First Presbyterian Church, 1000 Penn St. Enter through the door marked “Chapel” at the north end of the campus, near the corner of Penn and Texas streets.
Celebration of life: October 13, 2018, 4:30 p.m., Rose Chapel—Preservation Hall, 1519 Lipscomb Street 76104.
Although Larry had strong opinions, there wasn’t a strident bone in his body. He was one of the world’s kind and gentle souls, and he will be sorely missed.
Memorial gifts may be made to:
Paschal Panther Band (www.paschalband.com),
Tarrant County College, Frances Schuessler Scholarship Fund(http://foundation.tccd.edu)
Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University (www.depts.ttu.edu/rawlsbusiness)
University of Texas at Arlington, College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs (http://www.uta.edu/cappa/giving/index.php)
Larry Schuessler was born on May 27, 1950, in the small West Texas town of O’Donnell, a place so small that it had only one restaurant – the local Dairy Queen. His parents farmed dry land cotton in Dawson County at a time when rain was scarce. The family made fast tracks to Fort Worth in 1956, where they settled into a rambling two-story house in Mistletoe Heights. Larry lived as only a brother wedged between two older and two younger sisters could – by keeping quiet. One of his first jobs was at Leonard Brothers Department Store, where he tended the popcorn machine. Larry graduated from Paschal High School in 1968, where he played alto saxophone in both the marching and stage bands.
For some reason, West Texas drew Larry back, and he attended Texas Tech University, graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration. A Red Raider to his last days, Larry proudly flew the Tech flag, even on some TCU game days. After returning to Fort Worth, he earned a Master of Urban Affairs and Policy from the University of Texas at Arlington. Part of Larry’s master’s work included drawing proposed single-member districts to replace the “at large” Fort Worth City Council system then in place. The general layout of the districts Larry drew was used when the City of Fort Worth adopted single-member council districts in 1975. About this time, Larry took a position as Outreach Director at the downtown Fort Worth YMCA, running a series of programs that served children and adults in the communities where they lived. He also continued his political work, chairing the Sector One Planning Council in 1976, drawing proposed single-member district lines for Fort Worth Independent School District Board of Trustees in 1977, and working on Jim Hightower’s successful campaign for Agriculture Commissioner in 1982.
Larry was a proud member of the “Mistletoe Mafia,” a group of progressive citizens who believed that government should work for all people. He attended the “Wednesday Lunch” group at Shirley Johnson’s house and worked on her victorious single-member district Fort Worth City Council campaign in 1977. His experience with electoral work during the late 1970s and early 1980s led to a job as the Assistant to the Fort Worth City Secretary, where he oversaw the municipal elections process. In 1986, Larry moved to the City of Fort Worth’s blossoming computer department, now called IT Solutions, where he was a Senior Administrative Assistant. Larry was any employer’s dream – organized, competent, detail-oriented, thorough, smart – and not prone to complain about anything. He hardly ever missed a day’s work.
Larry bought a home in Fort Worth’s Fairmount neighborhood in 1987, just as it became an historic district and before all of the revitalization occurred – one of the true “urban pioneers.” He lovingly restored his 1918 bungalow, painting, landscaping, and filling it with artifacts of Fort Worth history. He cared about the neighborhood and wanted it to look good. When a house burned down in his block, Larry mowed the grass and planted trees and shrubs in the former front yard, creating what neighbors called “Larry’s Park.” Those who lived on his block knew and much appreciated that on trash and recycling collection day Larry would move their bins back up the driveway within a few minutes of a truck’s pick-up run along the street.
A consummate collector of postcards, photographs, panthers, and other items related to Fort Worth, Larry celebrated the town he’d moved to as a youngster with a fervor that few could match. Panther lamps lit his home, ceramic panthers crept along tables, and advertisements for panther-themed Fort Worth businesses lined the walls. He was justifiably called “Panther Larry” by some of his friends. The house was even featured on the Fairmount Home Tour in 1991. Larry created a Christmas postcard every year featuring a montage of historic Fort Worth photographs drawn from his collection or ones that he had taken of family and friends or during his travels.
Larry continued his political interests, volunteering on Lloyd Doggett’s U. S. Senate campaign in 1984 and managing State Representative Lon Burnam’s campaign accounts for more than a decade. Other community pursuits interested him as well. As part of his master’s thesis project, Larry called upon United Cerebral Palsy of Tarrant County to learn about their sport and recreation programs. He quickly became an active volunteer, taking on key roles in the 1983 National CP games held at TCU. From there, he grew into a dedicated local coach and multi-sport official at regional, national, and international sporting events within the National Disability Sports Alliance. The Disabled Sports Association of North Texas honored Larry with an award for his work in 1992.
Larry’s collecting interests grew after his retirement from the City of Fort Worth in 2008, when he was able to travel far and wide to collect Fort Worth postcards and photographs. It was OK with Larry to spend $600 on airfare and hotels if he found one $5 postcard that he didn’t have. The adventure was part of the fun. Larry was willing to share his collection with anyone who needed illustrations for a book, talk or article. He also enjoyed taking his dog to run in open spaces, playing cards and dining with friends, and improving the landscaping in his yard. Larry was a talented photographer, creating slide shows with music long before software was available. He shared these shows with his friends, and as technology progressed, he also produced videos that celebrated friends’ birthdays and other events featuring his trademark, slightly warped sense of humor. Larry also traveled with close friends, celebrating New Years at Brownwood State Park with them for over thirty years, recently caravanning with compadres to spend a week at a friend’s home in San Miguel de Allende, and maintaining close friendships from his early Fort Worth days by visiting them out of state regularly. He also traveled throughout the United States to enjoy its diverse beauty and historic sites.
Larry’s family was important to him throughout his life. His sisters fondly remember the day Larry got his first puppy, Oscar. The kids spent summer days together at Forest Park Swimming Pool and played hide and seek with neighborhood children late into the summer nights. Larry and the sisters loved playing miniature golf together as a family at the Putt Putt, and Mary and Karen always went with our Dad to Paschal football games to watch Larry play in the marching band. Later, Larry inaugurated our sibling lunches, which occurred frequently, even into 2018 before Larry became ill. He always regaled us with a video montage of his latest vacation trip. Larry was a great photographer and genius when it came to making VHS and CDs of his travels. Fortunately for the girls, Larry knew how to make a TV remote work! Bettye has already had to call Charter/Spectrum twice while Larry was in the hospital.
SURVIVORS: Larry was preceded in death by his parents, Frances Schuessler and L. G. Schuessler, and is survived by his sisters Francie Capuano; Bettye Lynn; Mary Johnston and husband Bob; and Karen Baker, his beloved dog Babe, and by several nieces and nephews, many great nieces and nephews, and one great-great nephew. He is also survived by a large and loving group of friends and neighbors who have shown great devotion during his recent illness, especially Jamy and Jerry McCole, who were kindred spirits.
Brown Owens & Brumley Family Funeral Home
425 S. Henderson St.