A familiar voice is gone from the Gainesville Campus. Capt. Lawrence “Larry” Eschen died on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at age 94.
“Larry was a well-liked visitor to Walters House,” said Matt Thomas, Vice President for External Relations. “ We could always hear him coming down the hall, because he liked to stop at every desk on the way and spread some good cheer and little gifts. His support of our students and programs was exemplary, making learning projects possible that enriched our regular curricular offerings.”
Eschen’s many years of military service made him a keen student of European history. At the end of World War II, he was stationed in Wiesbaden and Cologne, Germany. It was the same time, and the same region, where another Brenau legend was also serving: the late John Jacobs jr., former chair of the Brenau Board of Trustees. Just like Jacobs, Eschen took great pleasure in sharing his experiences of the reconstruction period in postwar Germany.
“Many were the times that he brought a stack of yellowed prints from 1945 to my office,” said Rudi Kiefer, who was director of multimedia publishing at the time. “We would scan and enlarge them, clean them up digitally, and thereby create new documentation of the days that began the deep friendship between the U.S. and Germany. Larry’s pictures provided views that were never seen anywhere else.”
But such small favors couldn’t begin to return the support that Eschen provided to Brenau University, and to the Academy in its final years. Whether it was supporting an athletic team by donating the funds for their t-shirts, or giving to a new initiative of the theatre program, or purchasing office equipment that didn’t make it into the official budget, he never hesitated to show where his heart was. “We enjoyed his regular workout visits at the Fitness Center,” said receptionist Elizabeth Chappelle. “He never arrived empty-handed. Often he’d stand in the lobby and hand out lollipops to the younger students and the little kids.”
Pat Felt, administrative assistant at the Fitness Center, agreed. “He was more than a customer. He was a good friend. Being a people person, Larry never met a stranger. Every time his booming voice was heard from the entrance, we know there would be some humorous anecdotes, and presents for everybody.”
Eschen leaves behind a daughter last known to be living in Mexico, and two grandsons. A guest book and condolence list are available at http://www.littledavenport.com/notices/Lawrence-Eschen/guest-book.