Royce L. Larsen of Neillsville passed away April 21, 2015, nine days before his 92nd birthday, at the Clark County Health Care Center.
Born on April 30, 1923, in Waupaca, to Ralph and Marguerite (Miner) Larsen, he graduated from Manawa High School in 1940. Following graduation, he entered the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCCs), which sparked his love for the outdoors and the beauty of Wisconsin. His passion was helping to preserve forests, water, and soil. Royce was drafted into the Army during WWII, serving from 1943–1946. For 18 months he was stationed in Hawaii as a radar specialist. He then attended U.W. River Falls, earning a B.S. in agriculture. He married Dorothy Severson on June 11, 1948. He enlisted in the Army Reserves and served two years during the Korean War, stationed in Germany. Following college and military service, he spent most of his career (28 years) working for the Soil Conservation Service in Neillsville and Stratford. The Larsen family moved to Neillsville in 1961. In his last days, Royce still shared memories of the many farmers in Clark and Marathon Counties with whom he partnered to develop soil conservation practices and reduce water pollution.
Royce is survived by his wife of nearly 67 years, Dorothy, along with their three children, Tana (Frank) Schimberg, Brentwood, CA; Rhonda (Rudy) Forjan, Eustis, FL; and Jay (Mary Jo) Larsen, Cottage Grove, MN. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Jason (Valerie) Pischer, Katy (Greg) Furnas, Hannah (Hershall) Brown, Shawna (Christian) Mendenhall, Nicholas (Jamie) Larsen, and Molly (Corey) Eidem; eleven great-grandchildren: Hudson and Ryan Pischer; Jackson, Jordan, and Jett Furnas; Paris Ower; Alivia, Amelia, Jameson, and Jude Larsen; and Mazie Eidem; a brother-in-law, George Severson; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Donna, and brothers, Wayne and Glendon.
A favorite pastime was playing the piano, especially to entertain his grandchildren. Royce had a knack for learning chords and harmonies of familiar melodies “by ear” and never had piano lessons. He liked taking his grandchildren fishing in his boat and camping in his travel trailer. He made lasting memories for them. He enjoyed walks in the woods and teaching his children and grandchildren to identify various plants, trees, and insects. In retirement he was happiest being in the county forest area west of Neillsville or working on his woodland property near Fifield. When declining health kept him homebound, Royce still worked in his backyard raking and composting. He was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Neillsville.
A memorial service is planned for 11:00 a.m. on June 13, 2015 at the Calvary Lutheran Church with visitation from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Memorial gifts may be directed to Calvary Lutheran Church. Online Condolences may be made at www.geschefh.com. The Gesche Funeral Home is assisting Royce’s family with Funeral arrangements.