Scoutmaster of Troop 41 has no plans to retire
Published 10:05 am Saturday, December 14, 2013
MERLE MONAHAN/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
WINDSOR—Larry Willis was surprised when the town of Windsor recognized his 45 years of service as a Boy Scout leader by presenting him with the Town Pin.
“I didn’t think my service was all that special,” Willis said. “Working with the scouts is something I love to do.
“In fact, someone asked me not long ago when I was going to retire as scoutmaster, and I replied, when I die,” he added with a smile.
The Town of Windsor does think his work is special, however.
“It is the pleasure of the town council to present you, Scoutmaster Larry Willis, with this pin to thank you for 45 years of helping train our future leaders,” said Mayor Carita Richardson when she presented the pin, which is a replica of the old Windsor train station.
“It was nice to be honored for something I’m very happy to be a part of. I appreciate the town’s acknowledgement,” Willis said later,
Willis, himself an Eagle Scout, has seen 49 young boys go on to achieve this rating during his 45 years as their leader “and the 50th is almost ready,” he said.
“Becoming an Eagle Scout is a high honor,” Willis went on. “It takes persistence and dedication. But it is wonderful training. It prepares a young man to handle many of the obstacles in life.”
The dedicated Scout leader was born in Tennessee, but moved with his family to Hertford, N.C, when he was about two, he said. He grew up and attended high school there.
His family moved to Virginia in 1966, where he secured a job at the Newport News Shipyard.
Willis switched to the position of forestry technician with the State Department of Forestry in 1974, however, where he stayed for 33 years before retiring.
The 71-year-old devotes much of his time today to his Scout Troop 41.
“We have our meetings in the Larry Willis Scout House up near the Community Building,” he said. “It was named after me when I had been the scoutmaster for 40 years.”
Willis said there are currently 23 boys ranging in ages of 11 to 18 in his troop in various stages of earning their badges. He adds that meetings are held weekly each Thursday under the direction of himself and Jim O’Briant, assistant scoutmaster.
“We’re very proud of these young men,” Willis said. “They are eager to learn and I can think of no better way for them to learn about how to survive in various outdoor situations than as a Boy Scout.”
He added that the troop participates in several outdoor adventures and has won many awards at national jamborees.
“We’ve been to the Philmont Scout Range in New Mexico on five different occasions,” he said. “These are high adventure trips,” he added, “and the boys love them.”
Willis said he honestly has no intentions of retiring from scouting. “This is the way I grew up, and I love the outdoors.
In fact, his outdoor experiences gave him a good background for his work with the forestry department.
“I remember once my department was sent to fight a forest fire in Florida that covered an area as big as Suffolk and three surrounding counties and lasted three weeks.
“I operated a bulldozier 12 hours a day for the entire time, but I was conditioned. My outdoor training stood me in good stead.”
“I am very fortunate,” he went on. “I have almost always had jobs that I like and that includes my work with the scouts. I think it is so important for young men, and women, to know how to take care of themselves in an outdoor situation.
Willis is an honorary member of the Windsor Fire Department, a member of the Windsor Ruritans and attends the Windsor Christian Church.
NAME: Larry Willis.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: My family moved here in 1965.
HOMETOWN: Hertford, N.C.
OCCUPATION: Retired from the State Department of Forestry after 33 years.
MARITAL STATUS: Married to Mary Lee for 52 years.
CHILDREN, AGES AND SCHOOLS: We have two daughters, Sandy Craig, 51, and Laurie Lee Willman, 48. We also have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: Dinner out with my wife and friends.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: George’s in Suffolk.
FAVORITE FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Steak and iced tea.
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I like to play golf.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: Procrastination.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: Hunting, fishing and camping.
WHAT IS YOUR PET PEEVE: People who won’t follow directions.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB: Working at the Newport News Shipyard.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As a trusted and helpful friend.
IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: We need to get our country back to the way it was years ago, when we could trust people and had less fear of being robbed or killed. We need to get drugs out of the hands of our children and teach them to respect the rights of others. A good place to start with our children is to get them into a scouting program, where they’ll learn good morals and values, as well as survival skills.