Friends describe Larry Levine as a quiet man who loved rivers, his fishing buddies and the blues.
Sixty-seven-year-old Levine was was the oldest of the nine victims in the mass shooting in Roseburg.
Levine was an English instructor at Umpqua Community College. He even looked the part of a professor, with a grizzled gray beard, and sometimes smoking a pipe.
Levine lived in a cabin on the North Umpqua River and was a steelhead fishing guide.He had a community of close friends in Glide, but he also enjoyed solitude in nature. In the fall, he would disappear into the forest for long stretches. Then he’d show up at his friend’s homes with bags of wild mushrooms as gifts.
“Larry was a wonderful man, he was very gentle, very caring, and very creative,” said Bill Undlin, a friend and neighbor to Levine.
“I’ve known him for decades,” said Undlin. “He used to ride his bike to the store and get his newspaper and we’d talk. I’m going to miss him.”
“I just would like his legacy to be how much he loved the river, fly fishing and its environs and everything connected to it,” said Joe Howell, Levine’s friend. He said Levine was known for both strong opinions and his generosity.
“He was jovial and always joking and laughing,” said Howell. “I never heard him say an unkind word about anybody. He had a big heart.”
Howell last saw Levine a few weeks ago. He says Levine was excited at that time because he had finally been assigned to teach a class he really wanted at the college: Creative Writing.
Above all, Levine’s passion was his writing. He published nature essays and wrote several unpublished novels. In an essay in Fly Fisherman magazine Levine described a moment while fishing, eating a peanut butter jelly sandwich on a warm day.
He wrote: “Standing in the sun overlooking the river, I think there has never been a more delicious moment.”
Those close to Levine say that’s how they’ll remember him: Reveling in Oregon’s rivers and wild places. And perhaps, smoking a pipe.