by Jim Boyle
A funeral service was held yesterday (Oct. 14) for Tim Larson, a popular 43-year-old special education teacher who spent four years in the Elk River Area School District before accepting a job three years ago with the St. Michael-Albertville School District.
The educator is being remembered locally for his kind heart, a passion for running marathons and helping lift other people up.
Larson was shot and killed on Oct. 8 about 15 miles west of Paynesville in an apparent dispute over $50 and farm parts. Two men are being held in his death, including Delbert Huber, 81, of Paynesville, who was charged this past Tuesday with second degree murder. His son, Timothy Huber, 45, also of Paynesville, has been charged with aiding his father.
Word of Larson’s death made its way to Elk River and Otsego this past Sunday, leaving former colleagues shocked and saddened.
“It was hard to believe,” said Otsego Principal Erin Talley. “It’s still is hard to believe. Tim was not a confrontational man. He was a peacemaker and someone who would have looked for solutions.”
The Albertville man had worked for two years at Parker Elementary in Elk River as a teacher of emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children, and then two more years at Otsego Elementary before making the jump to middle school students in another district.
Talley said Judy Johnson, a prevention specialist for the Elk River Area School District, came in Monday morning to announce the news to her full staff and paraprofessionals, who knew him well.
“It was a difficult day,” Talley said. “Some have remained close through church activities and simply by where they live.”
Zimmerman High School Principal Marco Voce, who hired Larson while at Parker, remembered him as a serious hunter who was big into his church and big into his family.
“Nothing topped his kids and family,” Talley said.
Donna McGraw, a special education teacher at Parker, will never forget his greetings.
“Every morning when I’d see him and ask him how he was doing, he’d say ‘I’m blessed,’ ” McGraw said. “And at the end of the day when he would leave, he would say: ‘now you have a blessed day.’ ”
Larson was no doubt remembered at the funeral for his passions, which included running and helping others. As a teacher, he believed every student deserved a chance to succeed, McGraw said.
The former U.S. Marine and college wrestler completed the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:19:46 in 2009. He also ran the treacherous Pikes Peak Marathon as well as Minnesota’s most notable marathons.
He combined his passion for running with his passion for helping people in raising more than $21,000 to drill water wells in desperate regions around the world.
The cause he supported was called: “Mission: Water for LIFE.” The organization addressed the statistic that each year 3.4 million people, mostly children, die from water-related diseases.
Colleagues say Larson was always interested in how others around him were doing.
“Anytime you won, he won, too,” said Kristie Redmann, a school psychologist who worked with him at Parker and is a fellow runner. “He was so happy for you if you did well, and if you didn’t he was still happy for you.”
Redmann feels badly about not emailing Larson news of her recent finish in the Twin Cities Marathon.
“I wanted to finish in under four hours, and I didn’t,” said Redmann, who missed it by fewer than eight minutes. “He would have been happy for me anyway.
“He always built people up. That was his style.”