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A reflection by: Trustee + Former Faculty Paul Keller

Right before the world was flipped upside down by COVID-19, the Marvelwood community and world at large lost the great Larry Kollath. Shortly after his passing, I had the chance to travel to North Carolina to join Marbie Kollath and others to celebrate the life of a man who was large in life and even larger in spirit. There were speakers from all chronological chapters of his journey who told eloquent tales with Larry. There were tales of him leaving for road trips with no itinerary or real destination, chasing bears by charging directly at them with a stick, realizing on his honeymoon in the woods that the only food he had packed was dog food, and others that I might not have believed had I not known him. What I soon found was that while each speaker other than Marbie was a complete stranger to me, they were quickly friends. We each had the chance for a moment, a day, or years to bask in Larry’s playful spirit and fearless sincerity. Each story was then segued with musical interludes virtually all of which had the banjo playing…it could not have been done any other way.

Boarding school teachers seem to be measured by their years on campus. Like all boarding schools, Marvelwood has had its share of icons, many of whom are still on top of Skiff Mountain today. Though his tenure was short, Larry was often the glue that held the entire school together in tough times. People would look to him for guidance or simply observe his mood. It was a big story when Mr. Kollath was upset and 150 or so people of all ages seemed to sense it was time to get in line. He was taken long before his work was done, but he left hundreds of students and people like me better simply by knowing him and seeing his example.

The best currency to measure your time with Larry is in the stories. If I shared some of my Kollath fables with a stranger they would probably label me a liar at best, but I was there and I remember. You probably have your share too. They may have been on a basketball court, in the woods, during a math class, or while getting reprimanded for a poor decision. Just stop for a moment and remember his laugh. Or envision his elevated energy when something excited him…his volume would elevate, his eyes would expand and you were along for a joyous ride. These moments happened, they were real, they changed us, and they will live on as long as we do.