Remembering my grandfather’s legacy

Jordan Larimore, Associate editor

Curtis Almeter

Jordan Larimore, Associate editor

Jordan Larimore

My grandpa is what you would call a ‘good ol’ boy.’ A member of Ducks Unlimited, he hunted, fished, cooked what he killed and had fun doing it. And he swore. A lot.

Dr. Keith Larimore is a very accomplished man. Although if you ever introduced him that way, he’d tell you, “If you gotta put ‘Dr.’ in front of your name to feel special, you ain’t worth a damn.”

He taught at this very University for virtually his entire professional career, most of which before I was even born. He became the Dean of the School of Business at age 28, a role he filled for 23 years.

In 2001, he suffered a brain aneurism, a condition with a 99.9 percent fatality rate, which nearly took his life. He was living in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my grandmother, Sherry. The horrifying story, as I recall it, was that in their living room, he reached for the television remote, and hit the floor before he could grab it, mid-sentence.

Last weekend when I realized it had been over 10 years since my family nearly lost my grandfather, I wasn’t even a functional human being for several minutes.

Rarely do I have a moment where a simple thought or realization completely floors me, to the point of stopping everything I’m doing, however recalling the incident rendered me speechless.

He was immediately transported to medical attention, where doctors, only after shaving his head and performing several surgeries, saved his life. He was alive, but comatose, for two and a half months.

I’ll never forget listening to my dad, Lee, tell the family about Keith’s reaction when he first awoke. Evidently, his catheter was…causing problems.

“Jesus Christ!” he screamed, his first words in sixty-plus days.

The day of his aneurism is as significant a memory to me as 9-11. I’ll never forget the feeling, the faces of my family, or where I was. But I’ll also never forget where I was supposed to be. My dad was supposed to pick me up from school and take me to Game Exchange, where I was dying to get a new video game for my Nintendo-64 console.

Instead, I saw my mother pull up. I immediately started blaming my dad, demanding to know where he was and what kept him from our then world-altering video game hunt. Then Mom calmed down enough to tell me. He was on his way to North Carolina; Papa Keith, as my younger sister and I know him, had gotten sick. Little did I know, doctors had instructed my dad to fly there immediately to help “Memom Sherry” plan her husband’s funeral.

Papa was invincible. At least that was the persona he portrayed, and at nine years old, I was sold.

From the moment he came out of his coma, he has taken steps on the road of recovery, making strides as the years pass. The right side of his body, including his brain, is completely paralyzed. For a long time, he needed a wheelchair just to get around his own home.

Ten years and some change later, at the spry age of 70, there are days he walks without a cane. His speech is still impeded, though at times he gets flustered and can still manage to mutter a “son-of-a-bitch” clear as a bell under his breath.

I’ve had a number of professors in departments all over campus simply see my last name, find out my relation to Keith, and tell me what an inspiring, incredible man my grandpa was for Missouri Southern.

His legacy has always been important to my family and me, but these comments show that it’s also important to the University.

That makes me proud to be a Lion.

And a Larimore.