Larry Peterson, born in Miami, Florida on January 10, 1940 entered eternal rest on Sunday, August 2, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida.

Affectionately known as “Ole Sparky” by those who loved him, Larry is survived by his wife, Barbara, his son, Michael, his grandchildren, Nick and Alexandra, his sister, Carol, and his dog, Coco.

Larry touched the lives of everyone who crossed his path, as a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend, and a coach. Larry married Barbara and was fortunate to experience life’s three F’s – friends, family and fifty years of marriage, a testament to his love, devotion, and dedication to Barbara throughout his life. Larry and Barbara loved to entertain friends and to cook together, even spending time traveling the back roads of Florida in a truck and hauling a trailer to compete in barbecue competitions (one of the many things Barbara did out of her love for Larry that will earn her the right to join him in heaven).

Larry was an electrician by trade and a proud member of The Local 349 in Miami. Larry was very good at his craft, but those who knew him well will tell you that he never had a cover on the electrical panel at his house. He was famous for saying “just go to the garage and turn off the breaker.”

Larry was an incredible father, spending countless hours on baseball and football fields throughout Miami coaching his son and many other players. Larry was known for throwing the first pitch in batting practice at you before asking, “Are you ready?” Larry was also known for the “gentle” way he grabbed your face mask to persuade you it was “my way, or the highway.” As his son, I will miss all the times he asked me “Do you have anything you want to tell me today, Sunshine?”. I would tell him now how thankful and grateful I am that he was my father, for the many lessons he taught me and for the person that I have become.

Larry was a doting and devoted grandfather, often travelling from Lakeland, where he moved from Miami in 2006, to see his grandchildren play baseball, football, and volleyball both in Miami and at tournaments throughout Florida. A proud Marine, he taught Nick and Alex the Marine Corps hymn seemingly by the time they could walk, and his grandchildren continued to greet him with a “Semper Fi” until his passing. An avid scholar, Larry emphasized academics to his grandchildren at an early age, insisting to his death that the correct way to spell cat was “kat.” He also loved to play golf with his grandson, Nick, never letting him forget the proper mechanics of the golf swing, unfortunately sometimes in the middle of Nick’s back swing.

For those who were blessed to call him a friend, Larry was kind and generous. He had an inherent friendliness and humility about him that drew you to him. He always had a thoughtful and often humorous thing to say when he saw you. He loved to tell his stories, and for those of us who were close to him, although we had heard the same stories a million times, there was always something in the way that he told them that would make you want to stop and listen…again.

Barbara often accused Larry of loving his animals more than people. As a child, our house was affectionately referred to as “the zoo,” having as many as three dogs, six cats, thirty gerbils and a dozen fish at one time. Larry loved to take in stray animals, once taking off work without pay to travel from Miami to the Fort Drum Service Plaza to pick up the family mix, Rags, who escaped from the car a day earlier when he was pumping gas. He would always say how quickly Rags jumped in the car and how he slept on his lap the entire way back to Miami.

Larry was genuine, something that is a very difficult thing to be in today’s world. He was also a man of great faith which gives us comfort in knowing that he is cloaked in the Lord’s love and grace. Ole Sparky leaves a legacy of loving memories, hearts that were touched, lessons that were taught, and lives that were changed by a life that has been more meaningful to his family and his friends than even he could have imagined.

Please join us in celebrating his life by thinking about your fondest memories of Larry and offering him up in prayer. Given the current restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a private ceremony and burial will be held with immediate family. Mass will be held in Lakeland and Miami in honor of Larry’s life at a future date.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Animal Refuge Center, P.O. Box 62605, Fort Myers, Florida 33906.

Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.

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