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From everyone here at Sierra News Online, our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of David and Joyce Larson.

Celebration of Life for David and Joyce Larson

David Arlo Larson

December 17, 1935 – October 17, 2023

Flavia Joyce (McClain) Larson

March 24, 1937 – June 26, 2023

Dave passed away on October 17th, 2023 in Fresno, CA. Joyce preceded him in passing on June 26th, 2020 in Ashland, OR. Dave was born in Silverton, OR, on December 17th, 1935 to Arlo and Mary Larson. Joyce was born in Stella, NE, on March 24th, 1937 to Edgar and Thelma McClain. Joyce’s family moved to Silverton, OR, after the Great War. Joyce and Dave attended Silverton High School together. They were married on December 15th, 1954 in Centralia, WA, while Joyce was a Senior in high school and Dave was on leave from the Navy, since dropping out of high school the previous year. Immediately after their marriage, Dave was shipped out to the Western Pacific to serve as a radio operator on LCU-810 during the Korean War and Joyce finished up high school. They moved to San Diego after her graduation.

After Dave’s 4 year hitch in the Navy, they returned briefly to Silverton to live, but due to the depressed economy of the area, Dave signed on to serve in the US Air Force and pursue his love of aeronautics. During this time of serving in the Armed Services, they had two children Lori Lynn, and Wayde Scott. It was during his time in the Air Force that Dave became an expert in the mechanics of jet propulsion.

Toward the end of his 4 year enlistment, Dave’s dad became seriously ill and the family moved back to Silverton. After his dad’s death, Dave was offered a job with McDonald Douglass Aeronautics at Vanderburg Air Force Base, near Santa Maria, CA, to work in the highly classified Titan “Minuteman” Rocket program. So off to Santa Maria the family went. While Dave was learning and becoming an expert in rocket propulsion systems, Joyce began her career in bookkeeping and accounting and Dave’s mother, Mary, helped with raising the kids, Lori and Scott.

In 1968, with the Apollo Moon Mission ramping up, Dave was transferred to Cape Canaveral, aka the “Cape” near Titusville, FL, to work on the third stage propulsion systems of the huge Saturn V rocket that would carry Man to the moon over the course of the next two years. While Dave was working on rockets, Joyce was quietly working her way up the corporate ladder, becoming the highest ranking female within the administrative offices of JC Penney. At the conclusion of the Apollo program in 1970, Dave was laid off and Joyce accepted a transfer to the JC Penney corporate office in Oakland, CA.

When they returned to the West, they decided that Oakland was not a place to raise a family, and settled in Oakhurst, CA, a place where they spent many camping trips while living in Santa Maria. Dave went to work for a small struggling concrete ready-mix company, called Outback, in Oakhurst. One of the first projects he worked on was the “great bridge” on Highway 49 connecting Madera and Mariposa Counties. He worked with them for many years building the company and pouring hundreds of home foundations throughout eastern Madera and Mariposa Counties during the rapid growth of the 70’s. Joyce went to work as the office manager and Chief Administrative officer for the only true adobe manufacturing company in the United States, located in Fresno, CA, Hans Sumpf Company. She also started and was President of the Oakhurst Business and Professional Women’s Organization.

In 1982, with Joyce’s parents in poor health, they returned to Silverton to help care for them. Joyce went to work for the Garten Foundation and Pfeifer Construction while also serving on the Silverton City Council from 1983-1985. Dave served as Silverton’s Chamber of Commerce Manager where they were instrumental in bringing the “Main Street” economic revitalization program to Silverton. They were co-elected 1984’s Silverton’s First Citizen.

In 1988, they moved to Ashland, OR to “slow down.” Joyce went on to work for Dr. Heller and Dr. Kalb. Dave worked for Lithia Stationery and Pacific Office Supply, where he won awards for Top Salesman and was known throughout the Medford/Ashland area. They pursued their spiritual journeys and became Ordained Essene Ministers. They had the honor of performing marriage ceremonies for three of their grandchildren. They moved to Shelton, WA, for a brief time to pursue ministerial opportunities. In 2003, they moved to Central Point, OR, to retire.

Joyce passed away on June 26, 2020 at the Village at Valley View in Ashland, OR, suffering from Alzheimer’s. Dave then moved to be with family in Coarsegold, near Oakhurst, CA. He passed away at Heritage Crossings, Fresno, CA, with complications due to dementia on October 17, 2023. They are survived by their two children, Lori and Scott, 7 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

They will be interned at Miller’s Cemetery in Silverton, OR.

Dave was a prolific writer and was working on an autobiography describing his life as a “mill kid” growing up in the lumber mills of southern Oregon while his dad worked the mills and tried to bring in labor unions, to his being a high school dropout that went on to be a rocket scientist sending man to the moon.

Lori and Scott are working on reviving his writings and would appreciate any stories or anecdotes about either Dave or Joyce from past friends, acquaintances or family. Please reach out to Scott at wscott.larson@gmail.com if you knew Dave or Joyce.

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