Larry Dean Woodson, 81, of Topeka, passed away at his home on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
He was born January 4, 1941, in Kingman, Kansas, the son of Lawrence and Vera Louise (Layman) Woodson. He was a 1958 graduate of Kingman Rural High School and received a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education from Kansas State University in 1964.
Larry was doing his student teaching in Arkansas City, Kansas when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas. Inspired by the famous Kennedy quote “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your county,” he signed up as a volunteer for IVS (International Voluntary Services), which was the predecessor and model for the US Peace Corps. Following the completion of his orientation, he was sent to Laos where he would spend the next eleven years of his life during the Vietnam War years. In Laos, he completed projects and performed duties that included teaching English as a second language, training teachers and new volunteers, building new schools and classrooms, collaborating with refugees and their children, and assisting farmers with their livestock programs.
During his time with IVS, he was able to travel the world to places such as Switzerland, Hawaii, Singapore, and the like. The highlight of his experience abroad was when he was invited by the King of Laos to the Royal Palace for the Lao New Year Reception. He played tennis with the Crown Prince, visited the King’s Garden with the Second Prince, and was invited to take photos for the Baby Prince’s wedding.
Much of his document collection from his time in Laos was sent to the Vietnam Library and Archives at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX.
The impending invasion by the communist North Vietnamese army ended his service abroad as he and the other Americans were evacuated out of the country. Upon returning to the states, Larry applied for a position with the Kansas State Board of Agriculture and spent 29 years with the department, including several years as the Director of State Agricultural Inspections.
Larry was a very civic minded individual and served on his local township and rural water boards while living in Overbrook, Kansas as well as served a four-year term as an Osage County Commissioner. He was also a Mason, Arab Shriner, member of the Overbrook Pride Committee, and Rotarian where he earned the Paul Harris Fellow Award.
Larry enjoyed farming, traveling, playing tennis, playing and umpiring fastpitch softball, and more than anything else, spending quality time with family and friends.
Larry married Dee Ann (Davenport) Smith on September 1, 1978, in Reno, Nevada. She survives in Topeka. Other survivors include sons Scott A. (Kat) Smith of Topeka and Rod M. Smith of Waverly, KS; and two grandchildren, Tatum K. and Macy A. Smith.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Steve C. Woodson.
Honoring his request, cremation is planned. A celebration of life will be at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Dove Cremations and Funerals, Southwest Chapel, 3700 SW Wanamaker Road, Topeka, KS, 66610. To honor Larry’s memory, if attending the celebration of life, please wear the color purple or your favorite K-State attire.
Larry's services will be livestreamed at the scheduled service time. Click Here
to view the service.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Arab Shrine Travel Fund, sent in care of the Arab Shrine, 1305 S. Kansas Ave., Topeka, KS 66612 or to Lowman United Methodist Church, 4101 SW 15th St., Topeka, KS 66604.
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