Photography

Lawrence Peter Larson

October 4, 1938 ~ October 14, 2022 (age 84)

Tribute

Lawrence “L. Peter” Larson, 84, left peacefully to join his heavenly Father on Friday, October 14, 2022, at home with his wife, Sallie, by his side.
Peter was born in the original Kalispell Hospital in 1938, the eldest of four sons born to Lawrence and Helen Larson. He grew up in Kalispell in the Larson family tradition of pioneer logging. With his cousin Bob Sparling, Peter spent most summers of his youth at logging camps established by his grandfather, Hans, who had emigrated from Norway in 1903 at the age of 17.
Peter graduated from Flathead High School in 1956 with the moniker “Buckshot.” He played football and basketball, and also took an interest in bridge, playing in tournaments during high school and in his adult years. Following high school, Peter joined the Army Reserves and trained at Ford Ord in California. The next year, he enrolled at Washington State University in Pullman, subsequently transferring to Principia College in Illinois, where he majored in physics.
After graduating from Principia in 1961, Peter returned to Montana and started a portable sawmill, which he operated northwest of Kalispell during the 1960’s. He eventually transitioned to managing the family businesses: American Timber Company (started by his grandfather in 1928), American Stud Company (started in the mid-1970’s), and Glacier Gold Compost (which he initiated in the 1990’s). He also continued to manage his own logging business: L. Peter Larson Company. In 1979, he was named Logger of the Year at the fourth annual Big Sky Logger Championships. In receiving this award, Peter was recognized for developing a design for logging and transporting lodgepole pine to the mill economically, thereby “assuring continuation of the timber industry as a viable business and major employer in Northwest Montana.” He continued to manage the family businesses, headquartered in Olney, until the early 2000’s, when the dwindling federal timber sales led to the companies’ closures.
Peter married Claudia Larson in 1965 and they had three children: Brent, Robin, and Julie. In 1977, he married Donna Mae Larson and adopted her four children: Steve, Kelly, Michael, and Tyler. After more than three decades of marriage, Peter lovingly supported Donna through years of decline due to Alzheimer’s, first caring for her at home and then visiting her daily at the Immanuel Lutheran Home until her death in 2014. In 2016, Peter married Sallie Larson and welcomed Sallie’s two adult children, James and Laura, into his family.
Peter was an astute businessman. In addition to managing the family businesses over three decades, he served thirty years on the board of Glacier Bancorp, nine years on the board of Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC; now Logan Health Medical Center), and several years on the boards of Youth with a Mission (YWAM), Mission Builders International (MBI), and Semitool. In his approach to these positions, Peter believed that informed decision-making required getting to know the business inside and out. “You have to understand what’s going on in the trenches,” he would say. To that end, Peter would regularly visit and talk with the full range of people who were actually doing the work, from the CEO to the frontline workers and volunteers, so he could see the issues firsthand and gain insights about how to solve them. In 2015, Peter became the 44th recipient of the Great Chief Award, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce’s oldest and most prestigious honor.
Peter was a man of integrity and humility. The community benefitted from his wisdom and his compassionate heart to serve others. He was personally involved with the Lighthouse Christian Home near Somers, attended Canvas Church in Kalispell (formerly The Christian Center) where he taught the adult class with his close friend, Pastor Bob Ross, and assisted his dear friend, Len Williamson, with Hineni Ministry in Bigfork. Throughout his life, Peter donated time and money to organizations, including Flathead Valley Community College, KRMC, the Advanced Life Support and Emergency Rescue Team (A.L.E.R.T), the Lighthouse Christian Home, the Immanuel Lutheran Communities, YWAM Montana, MBI, and multiple missionaries around the globe, as well as to numerous local families and individuals. Peter had a calm and reassuring presence with those who sought him out for advice or guidance. His special talent for listening and asking pertinent questions conveyed that he was genuinely interested and wanted to help.
Peter greatly enjoyed sharing stories, ranging from times he spent surveying land in the woods with his grandfather, to antics with his cousin Bob in the logging camps, to experiences as a businessman, to missionary trips he took abroad. He was also a bit of a local historian and particularly liked talking about his grandmother, Lillian Peterson, a young pioneer woman-homesteader who later became the Montana Superintendent of Rural Schools. He was very proud of his children as well and enjoyed introducing them to friends and associates. Peter was so widely known and well liked in the Flathead Valley that any outing with him required budgeting extra time due to the many acquaintances he would inevitably run into and want to visit with. He truly appreciated connecting with others and providing them with his legendary hugs, whether they were people he had known for years or ones he had just met.
Peter's sense of purpose in life deepened in 1984 when he gave himself to Jesus Christ. Studying scripture, glorifying God, and serving others became his paramount goal. Over the ensuing years, Peter mentored broken families, widows and widowers, struggling entrepreneurs, and most every soul he met. Initially with his wife Donna, and later with his wife Sallie, Peter participated in and supported missionary work around the world. He joyfully swung a hammer, mixed concrete, and performed manual labor with a broad smile and comical humor. He preached, taught, and ministered to the Huaorani people of Ecuador and at tribal churches in Nigeria, as well as initiating small business startups. He helped establish a Christian radio station in Albania and assessed the needs for MBI in Canada, El Salvador, and Sweden. In the last seven years, Peter encouraged the YWAM campus in Battambang, Cambodia, and attended YWAM conferences in Townsville, Australia, and Kansas City. Shortly after they married, Peter and Sallie attended YWAM training schools in Lakeside, Montana, followed by ministering in Ternopil, Ukraine. They also toured Israel with First Rate (Business as Missions) and visited Herrnhut, Germany, where worldwide mission work was championed in the early 1700’s. Peter took great pleasure in seeing YWAM Montana and MBI prosper and grow in their calling To Know God and To Make Him Known.
   Peter was preceded in death by his parents, Lawrence and Helen Larson, his wife Donna Mae Larson, and his brothers Paul and Jon Larson. He is survived by his wife Sallie Larson, his brother Kurt (Carol) Larson, his former wife Claudia Larson, his children Steve (Sandi) Apgar, Kelly Apgar, Brent Larson, Michael (Gretchen) Apgar, Robin (John Lee) Larson, Julie (Martin Alkire) Larson, and Tyler (Tonia) Apgar, and his step-children James LaPan, Laura (Justin) White, and Sareena Day, plus eighteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, as well as numerous brothers and sisters in faith. Peter expressed gratitude and love for everyone in his life as each had blessed him mightily. Our faithful companion, friend, husband, father, and grandfather is deeply missed and will live in our hearts forever—only to be greeted again in that land where there is no end, no tears, and no more goodbyes.
Services will be held at Canvas Church, 255 Summit Ridge Dr., in Kalispell on Saturday, October 22, 2022, at 11:00 a.m., followed by a luncheon in the church auditorium. A private family graveside service will be held at the C.E. Conrad Memorial Cemetery.
The family suggests memorial gifts be made to Flathead Warming Center, 889 North Meridian Road, P.O. Box 7142, Kalispell, MT 59904, or to Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana, 215 3rd Ave East, P.O. Box 8384, Kalispell, MT 59904.
A thanks to the photographer, Tim Rounds, for the wonderful photo of Peter.

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Services

Cemetery

Conrad Memorial Cemetery
P.O.Box 822
Kalispell, MT 59901

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