Last year, I began writing articles for the SaddleBrooke papers for the Institute for Judaic Service and Studies (IJSS). I followed the year of Jewish holidays, events, and traditions. This allowed me to form articles of general and, in some cases, particular interest.
Not being one to like repeating myself, I began thinking of ways to augment IJSS articles to have more community interest.
I thought spotlighting one of our members, who, in his passing, has left a mark not only on our community but among those whose lives he influenced, from his hometown in Milwaukee to his home in SaddleBrooke, might be of consequence.
My husband and I met Larry Stillman and his wife, Loraine, on one of our “get the house organized” trips before moving here permanently. Larry and Loraine and Nate and I were guests at Sherry and Bill Kaplan’s home. Larry was in a wheelchair with Loraine pushing him.
I learned that Larry was a writer and had published two books, The Rope Catcher and A Match Made In Hell. Both books are of historical relevance. I found that Larry was quoted in Contemporary Authors, saying, “Having spent 30-plus years creating major national advertising campaigns, I decided it was time to write something more meaningful than beer and floor wax commercials. Having written and published my first book, a nonfiction memoir of Holocaust survivor Morris Goldner, I am pursuing the realm of historical novels.”
Loraine told me that writing was always Larry’s strong point, surfacing early in his childhood, then as a copywriter in advertising, and lastly (after 30 years) as executive creative director at a major Chicago advertising agency.
I found out that Larry had a witty sense of humor and often wrote entertaining accounts of life at “Camp SaddleBrooke.” A goal of Larry’s had been to compile these letters into a book of sorts for all of us to read, laugh, and remember. Larry taught courses at the SaddleBrooke Institute of Learning in Retirement. He was very involved in the creative writing group.
A few months after our meeting, I learned that Larry had passed. I wanted to find out more about him, mostly because of his writings. Like so many of you, I am an avid reader. Books and their authors fascinate me. So, who better to go to for his story than his wife, Loraine? Loraine, open, outgoing, and kind, spent time with me as she spoke about her husband. I listened.
Larry and Loraine first met when both were in college. Larry was quiet on their first date, and she didn’t get it, but he asked her out for a second date, and she said yes. Larry told her he was quiet because he had dated her sister, and he didn’t know how that would go. After the laughter, a relationship grew. He traveled every weekend from Milwaukee to Minneapolis (335 miles) to see her while she was still in school.
Their relationship became one of marriage and a family of two children and four grandchildren. They lived and experienced life in Japan, St. Louis, Chicago, and Tucson. Foreign travel was also a highlight.
Japan provided occurrences of the unfamiliar. Larry worked for a Japanese company and did not have the benefits afforded to employees of the U.S. government or American corporations. Loraine shipped domestic goods from home to Japan. Imagine her surprise when she received a letter that she had to write a letter of apology to the emperor of Japan to apologize for bringing in American goods.
Loraine describes her husband as a man with a sense of humor, with creativity, and with a deep love of history. He was trained as a pianist, playing by sheet music and by ear. His mother wanted him to be a doctor. Most importantly, Larry is remembered as a man who loved his family and adored his grandchildren.
My thanks to Loraine for giving me insight into a man who I would have liked to know better and the story behind his writings.