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Lawrence Witt ’70

March 13, 2020, in Eugene, Oregon, after a lengthy illness.

Larry was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri. His father’s career in the U.S. Army Air Corps took the family to the Gulf Coast, London, England, Washington, D.C., and Panama. As part of a Rotary Youth Exchange program, Larry spent a year in Piedras Negras, Mexico, and finished high school in San Antonio, Texas. When he aced the College Board and National Merit Scholarship tests, a teacher guided him to Reed.

A single parent when he started at Reed, Larry met his future wife when he took lodging—and found babysitting services—in the home of Marie Rering ’69 and family. Larry and Marie married at Cape Perpetua State Park in 1972.

“There is still a legend about the hippie wedding and the champagne,” Larry wrote in Marie’s obituary. “I once had a VW bus, wore tie-dyed shirts, had long hair and all that stuff. I lived in a commune for a while, then moved out to the woods with Marie.”

He drove a logging truck for more than a year and quit after jumping from a truck that was about to roll down a hill. He earned a master’s degree at the University of Oregon, where Marie was working on her doctorate in psychology. They spent the next 10 years traveling and studying at centers of learning. She completed an internship in Houston. He finished medical school at the University of Texas at San Antonio while working as a data analyst for the National Institute of Mental Health.

Remembering the work he had done as a volunteer at the White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon, Larry chose family practice as his medical field. After three years of residency at Stockton Family Practice in California, the Witts spent three months traveling around the country in a motor home, deciding where to settle. Knowing they wanted to live by the ocean, they eventually decided on Brookings, Oregon, where he took a family practice position and Marie opened a mental health practice.

They traveled often with their children with the philosophy that money spent on travel and educational experiences for their young sons was more important than saving for retirement. Larry coached basketball and chaperoned school trips. He supported scholastic activities, from the Montessori School to funding prizes for high school academic competitions.

In the ’90s, the Witts purchased a house in Ashland to save on costs for their sons and others attending Southern Oregon University. In the course of 15 years, the house became home to more than 50 residents, 14 of whom graduated from SOU. That included Larry, who earned a degree in history.

In 1989, Larry and Marie opened their own practice in Harbor, where they collaborated and consulted daily for 25 years. “It was glorious having a loved one to argue with regularly,” Larry recalled.

After closing down the practice, Larry ran an employee health clinic for Intel, worked in the Veterans Administration hospital system, and consulted on legal cases with his lifelong high school friend, Joe Blanks.

After Marie died in 2017, Larry moved to Junction City. He is survived by domestic partner and long-time friend Kathleen Kosche, his daughter Pamela, his sons, Larry Jr., Christopher, and Matthew, and his sister, Cornelia Mydlowsk.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2020

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