Passing: David L. Larson
David L. Larson, professor emeritus of political science, passed away on July 26, 2017. He served the Department of Political Science and the University of New Hampshire from 1965 to 1996.
When I arrived at UNH in 1991, Dave Larson was assigned as my mentor in the political science department. We remained very close friends for 26 years. When he had a series of medical problems in the mid 1990s, I took over his classes, including one of the department’s most popular classes, Polt 403 U.S. and World Affairs course, which David initiated several years beforehand. While he was recovering, I helped him manage the New Hampshire Council on World Affairs, which was established at UNH with Dave as the director. I spent several years going up to his camp near Moosehead Lake in Maine. I got my own camp in 2006, and began taking him up to stay with me. I talked with him almost every day about politics, the department and life, and he was always urging me to focus on my work, advised me how to deal with problems and supported me when I had my own medical problems. He began introducing me as his other son, which I took as a great compliment. During the last half year while he was staying at a local retirement home, I talked to him up to twice a day. After so many years of supporting me, I felt I could return the favor by having long conversations once or twice a day as he battled Parkinson’s and old age. I was amazed that his mind was as sharp as when I met him in the early 1990s. He was a proud Norwegian, and he had a fantastic wife and family. He loved the family's border collies, several of which I have had the privilege to own. Two years ago, I took him for his last trip up to his Maine camp, where he sat in his porch chair, sipped his sherry, chatted with his close friends and just looked out at the lake, the loons and the ducks. I imagine that is where is spirit is ... and well as with his family, his students, friends and colleagues whom he touched over the decades.
—Lawrence C. Reardon, associate professor of political science
Visiting hours will be held on Saturday, August 5th from 2 – 4 p.m. at Kent & Pelczar Funeral Home, 77 Exeter Street, Newmarket, NH. A private burial will be held at a later date at the Durham cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Cocheco Valley Humane Society, 262 County Farm Rd, Dover, NH 03820.
David L. Larson, 87, UNH professor emeritus of political science, died on July 26, 2017, surrounded by his family, at Wentworth Douglass Hospital, from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. He was born in Manhattan, NY, February 22, 1930, son of Lloyd and Elisabeth Larson.
David graduated from Garden City High School in 1948, and attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. While rowing crew for Dartmouth, he met his wife Lois Johnston when the crew team practiced in Florida during winter break at Rollins College. After graduating in 1952, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was sent to Officer Candidate School in El Paso, TX, graduating at the top of his class, and served as an intelligence officer in Wiesbaden, Germany. David and Lois married in 1953.
Returning to civilian life he entered the graduate program of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. While working towards his doctorate he served as the assistant dean of The Fletcher School as well as an instructor. In 1963 he was awarded a Ph.D. in political science. He then became an assistant professor of government at Tufts University as well as a visiting professor at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. While teaching at the Naval War College, he developed a decision making game for officers to role play crisis scenarios. At UNH this teaching tool coalesced into a book “SIMULEX 1968,” and was the basis for a popular course throughout his career.
|Professor David Larson in 1968. Photo courtesy of UNH Special Collections.
In 1965 he moved his family to Durham, NH to work as an assistant professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire. His daughter Janet insisted on getting a dog and in 1968 two Border Collie puppies were added to the family. He was active in supporting the family dog kennel for the past 49 years, including dog shows, sheepdog trials and puppy litters.
He was a Fulbright research scholar to Norway in 1972, working on international law of the sea issues, which became the focus of his interest for the remainder of his research career. In later years he was a full professor and served six years as chairman of the political science department.
He authored and edited six book including "The Cuban Crisis of 1962: Selected Documents and Chronology," "Security Issues and the Law of the Sea," and "The Puritan Ethic in United States Foreign Policy," and numerous articles in his field. He retired from UNH in 1996.
He was president of New England International Studies Association until 1991, president of Northeastern Political Science Association until 1992, and executive director of the New Hampshire Council on World Affairs from 1966 until he retired from the organization in 2001.
David was an avid fisherman, particularly salmon and trout. He fished Lake Morey, VT, deep sea fished Coral Beach, Bermuda, Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake and Moosehead Lake. His favorite spot to fish was Wilson Pond in Greenville, ME, where for more than 40 years he spent as much time as he could at his “summer camp” on Lower Wilson Pond.
He is predeceased by his daughter Janet E. Larson. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Lois; son Bruce Larson and wife Kathleen Bird; daughter Lisa Larson; son Douglas Larson; and his grandson Benjamin and wife Amanda Larson; and grandson Samuel Larson, as well as his nieces and nephews.
The Larson family thanks the caregivers and staff at Riverside Rest Home.
—The Larson family