On March 18, 2010, Master Chief Larry R. Mummey set sail for calmer waters after complications due to kidney cancer.
Larry was born July 30, 1943, in Harlem. He was always proud to be from the Montana Hi-Line, and shared countless stories of growing up there, jumping trains to Havre and spending time at the historic Kennedy’s bar, which his family still owns. He excelled in sports in high school, and throughout his life, followed the Harlem Wildcats on the sports pages.
At age 17, Larry joined the U.S. Navy. He went to the top, becoming a decorated Master Chief. He made the Navy his career, and enjoyed many years traveling the world on Aircraft carriers, specializing in Electronic Warfare. He had a deep love and respect for the sea, and all that it entailed. He retired after 26 years, and always laughed when people would ask whether he liked it. He not only liked it, it defined him. He always made us laugh when he pondered why other military servants would voluntarily go aboard a ship that sinks underwater, or jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
Early in life, he married Diana Wilkinson. Together, they had three wonderful children, Larry Russell, Jr. “Russ,” Erika and Justin. They later divorced.
After retiring from the Navy, Larry moved back to his homeland of Montana, passing up a job at the Pentagon, to get back to his roots. He received his BA degree in English from Eastern Montana College, and briefly taught English at Billings West High. He had a mastery of the English Language, was an expert in Shakespearean literature, and was known as the “Wordsmith” by many of his friends. He greatly enjoyed reading, often finishing novels in one day, and was also a brilliant writer. Gifted with a smooth and captivating voice, he was a man of few words, but when he spoke commanded attention, as he seldom said anything that wasn’t of value. Although seemingly stern and serious on the surface, he was always quick to point out that children and animals were drawn to him, which was the true measure of a man’s character. Larry was an impeccable dresser, with attention to every detail, and he took great pleasure in consistently tying the perfect knot in his tie. He demanded attention when he entered a room, whether he wanted it or not.
After teaching, he enjoyed working at the Tinder Box in Rimrock Mall for several years until its closing. He loved a fine cigar and a globe of warm red wine. Eventually, Larry landed with the Montana Department of Labor at Billings Job Service. It was there that he found a kindred spirit and soul mate in Donna Fredericks. They became fast friends through their love of literature, music and spirited political discussions. Years later, on Jan. 22, 2005, they married. Although too brief, they shared a deep and abiding love, and were so happy just being together enjoying the simple things in life. Larry welcomed his new stepchildren, Beau, Jess and Delaney Fredericks. He brought great calm and solace to their lives, and his laidback and accepting attitude was instrumental in helping to raise three teenagers — again! One of his favorite expressions was “I’ve seen serious and this ain’t it.”
Larry was an excellent marksman, and enjoyed many hours shooting with his children, his stepsons and brother-in-law, Gregg. He was rich in Western History, and knew the origin and history of all weaponry. Old fashioned guns and rifles were intrinsic works of art in Larry’s eyes. He loved the Old West, and was always quick to announce that he was “a true man of the ’90s — the 1890s.”
In the evening of his life, he enjoyed his retirement, especially traveling with Donna. Their regular trips to the Venetian in Las Vegas, to Boston for his daughter Erika’s wedding and a wonderful cruise to the Bahamas held special memories. He was also blessed with two grandsons, Cian and Declan, and so happy he got to see them both in his final year. Generous to the end, his dancing blue eyes will give sight to another.
Larry was preceded in death by his parents, Melvin and Mildred Mummey; sister Karen Mummey and brother Roger Mummey. He is survived by wife, Donna Fredericks; his son Russ, of Portland, Ore.; his daughter Erika and husband Bobby Gaudreau and their son Declan of Andover, Mass.; his son Justin of Billings and grandson Cian; his stepchildren Beau, Jess and Delaney Fredericks of Billings; his sisters, Annie Mummey, Janice Gilham and husband Ron; brothers Leslie Mummey and Ron Mummey and wife Liz; brother-in-law Gregg Wilkinson; cousin Vernon Mummey; ex-wife Diana Wilkinson of Maine; in-laws Julius and Esther Pfannenstiel; and brothers- and sisters-in-law, Dave and Linda Pfannenstiel, Darrell and Pauline Pfannenstiel and Dean Pfannenstiel. He also leaves behind dear friends Ben and Margia Pretlow, Mac and Lynn Roof, his Tuesday lunch buddies, and other countless friends too numerous to mention.
If desired, memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Humane Society.
Visitation will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 22, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 23, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, followed by interment with military honors at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park.