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A life remembered - 'A great husband, father, granddad'

December 05, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: "A Life Remembered," a regular Sunday feature in The Herald-Mail, takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Gary Benjamin Little, who died Nov. 25 at the age of 71. His obituary appeared in the Nov. 27 edition of The Herald-Mail.




marlob@herald-mail.com

When Irene True was about 7 years old, her one-room schoolhouse burned down, and thus began a daily five-mile bus trip to Hancock to go to school. But it wasn't all bad.

"I fell in love with Gary Little in the second grade," Irene (True) Little said this past Wednesday, smiling as she remembered her first meeting with her future husband.

Gary Little died Nov. 25 at the age of 71.

Irene and Gary celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. They had one son, Kirk, who with his wife, Nancy, had the couple's only granddaughter, Lindsey, now 18.

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"Gary was a great husband, father and granddad," Irene said.

After that first elementary school encounter, a friendship developed, and then it blossomed.

"In those days, kids didn't date like they do now until they were about 16," Irene said. "We did go to the junior and senior proms, though."

When they married in 1954, Gary already was in the U.S. Army and soon was sent to Yokohama, Japan.

"I had the opportunity to go with him, but I was a little country girl, so I decided to wait at home," Irene said.

She worked, saving her money and Gary's allotment, which he sent every month. When Gary came home, the couple had a little seed money to start their new life. Kirk was born in 1957.

At that point, the Littles still were living in Hancock. Irene had a succession of secretarial jobs, while Gary went to work for the federal government. He later worked at Mack Trucks Inc., retiring in 1991 after 30 years there.

"We moved to Hagerstown in 1965," Irene said. Still in that same house, Irene said she thinks of both her husband and her son when she looks over the lovely gardens in front and back of the home.

While others were getting wrapped gifts for Christmas and birthdays, Irene was getting the gift of labor from her two men.

"Believe me, the grounds didn't look like this when we moved here," she said.

Gary's love of gardening and landscaping extended beyond the boundaries of the home. Active at Morris Frock American Legion Post 42 on Northern Avenue, Gary was determined to keep the grounds there in top shape.

"He called it a living memorial," Irene said.

A past commander, Gary also had a vision about how the Legion should be active in the community.

"When Gary was commander the first time, the scholarship fund was started, the color guard was organized and they started the youth appreciation night," she said.

Gary loved children, but his granddaughter held a special place in his heart.

"When Lindsey was born, he just melted," Irene said, showing off a collage of pictures of Gary and Lindsey as she grew from a baby into a young woman.

Gary was athletic and enjoyed sports and all kinds of physical activity. He learned to ski when he was 60 and, with his friend, Don Witmer, traveled to British Columbia, Vail, Colo., and New Zealand to enjoy the sport.

He still was playing tennis even when his health began to deteriorate, Irene said.

"Gary had such a zest for life and a most peaceful passing," Irene said. "We loved him dearly."

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