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Doc Laraway – September 24, 2014

In Remembrance of Doc Laraway

Dr. Archie Emerson Laraway, Jr., passed away at the age of 97, into the hands of God and heaven, ending, his “long journey towards home,” on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Surrounded by family and friends, he graciously thanked each for being a part of his life; humble, caring, and God loving until his last breath.

Dad, Papa, Grandpa, Doc, Archie, Larry, Emerson, was loved by many and will be sorely missed. But we know he is with his Savior and has rejoined those who have gone before him.

Doc is survived by his children: John Laraway, Bud Laraway, Shannon (Mark) Crenshaw, Becky (Allen) Thomson, Cindi Simmons, Georgia (James) Rainer, and Virginia Donovan; also numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, special nieces and nephews, in-laws, and his extensive adopted “family.”

His life partner, loving wife of fifty years, Norma, preceded him to heaven, including daughter, Ruthie, brother Ed Laraway and sister Betty Wilson, many special in-laws, colleagues, and friends.

Born in Chicago, Ill., on February 19, 1917, to Archie Emerson Laraway, Sr., and Etta Smith, Doc was much loved, and the adventure of a lifetime began. His parents traveled the U.S., evangelizing and singing at churches and tent revivals across the States. In 1919, the pandemic flu took his mother’s life, so Doc went to live with an aunt while his father traveled to China as a missionary. Doc was sent across the ocean to join his father when Archie, Sr., remarried, and Doc I remained in a British Boarding school in China while the family grew; Betty and Ed became his little sister and brother.

Returning to the States, Doc was left at different farms and places in the Central Valley of CA. during the Great Depression, where he continued his schooling and developed a strong work ethic. As a young boy of 11, his father left him at Voorhees Boys School in San-Dimas, CA, a place which brought stability, caring, and a foundation in Quaker ethics. Doc graduated from Bonita High School, earned his B.A. degree at Whittier College in 1936, and went on to medical school to become a physician, earning his M.D. as a Pathologist. He learned through the generosity of friends and supporters to work hard, love God, and give back to those in need. He often told us, “Doors opened and I took the opportunities which God gave me.”

In 1944, while completing medical school, Doc met the love of his life, Norma Roskam, who was a student at BIOLA and hostess at Clifton’s Cafeteria in L.A. They fell in love, beginning their 50 yr. journey together. Both were very active at Montecito Church; singing, teaching, and forming life-long bonds with many. Norma was the gracious hostess for special events and meals in their home; Doc brought church youth and medical students for get-togethers, a time to worship, celebrate, and learn together. Doc joined choirs at Montecito, and later, Lake Avenue Congregational Church, sharing his beautiful voice and musical talents.

Caring for, adopting, and having their own children, was an integral part of Doc and Norma’s life. Their first and second born sons, John and Bud, brought joy and adventure to their lives, in addition to the sweet beautiful Ruthie. Virginia and Georgia were taken into the “Laraway fold,” to be nurtured and loved, in addition to the adoption of Becky, Shannon and Cindi. As the family grew, Doc practiced pathology at San Gabriel Valley Hospital, later adding Glendale, Lark Ellen, and other hospitals to his practice. Doc brought professionalism and caring to his “job” as a doctor; many colleagues became life-long friends through their associations in the medical field. Always sharing his growing love for the Lord and deepening spiritual faith, Doc was more than just a dad and friend, he was also a humble, gentle, spiritual man who loved many and shared his love of God on a daily basis.

As time passed, the family shared in adventures at the desert house in Little Rock, the beach house in San Clemente, road trips through the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion, in addition to growing a “neighborhood” in San Marino filled with many kids. The Laraway’s was the gathering place, the place for a good meal, fun, and adventures. Dad guided us to church, in our schooling, supported us in choosing our direction in life.

When the opportunity came up to purchase a piece of forested property in Janesville in 1970, Doc and Norma jumped at the chance to plan a future move from So. Pasadena and city life, to country life in Lassen County. After retirement from So. CA. hospitals, he worked part time in Lassen and Plumas counties as a pathologist. While building their dream house in the woods, Doc and Norma also began a close relationship with many families around Janesville. Becoming a registered Tree Farmer and working with LCC’s forestry program, Doc incorporated several projects on his property to improve the forest. He was an integral part of the establishment of Janesville Christian Fellowship, and he and Norma began Janesville Bible Camps in 1980 on their property to “share God’s word and creation” with hundreds of local children.

As families grew and moved, friendships developed, relationships strengthened, Doc and Norma continued to share their home and deep love for the Lord. As time passed, Norma left Doc in 1994 for heaven, and Doc continued to touch people’s lives with his gentle, kind spirit and hard work ethic. Doc and Norma have had a profound effect on many, many lives. No matter who needed a helping hand, Doc was there; cutting firewood, Christmas trees, lending a hand to build a house or church, to preach or teach, preparing for camps, to share a meal and time together. His quirky sense of humor, his fierce independence, his deep love for God, his caring for each of us has touched us all in some special way.

Doc has slipped the bounds of earth and joined his Maker in his “renewed body”, whole and free of pain. What a gift this special man has given each of us. We will remember his smile and quiet spirit. His independence and stubbornness which helped him survive; his strong work ethic and his love for his family, We will remember his love for God, and his wish that we would all read the Bible, open our hearts, and accept the gift of everlasting life. Thank you, Dad, for a life well lived, for the gift of family, for your spirit and heart. We will miss you in many, many ways and for years to come. But, we know you are in the hand of God now. Keep a place set at the table for us.

Join us in celebration of Doc’s life on Saturday, October 4th at 10:00 a.m. at Peanut Butter Camp on Doc’s property, 462-300 Upper Christie, Janesville. For questions, call Becky or Allen Thompson at 253-3684 or 251-3684 or email: [email protected]

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Marshel Couso
Marshel Couso
SusanvilleStuff Owner/Publisher
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