“… Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.”
When Carl Larson sings, it is from his heart. If you have ever heard him sing during the 9 a.m. service, you know this. Something greater than the notes on the page is conveyed. You can feel it in your soul. Some of my personal favorites from Carl’s repertoire include, “This is My Country,” by Raye/Jacobs; “Mary’s Boy-Child,” by Jester Hairston; and “Song for the Unsung Hero,” by Joseph and Pamela Martin. Memorial Day and Christmas Eve are never quite the same for me without hearing Carl sing.
Carl and his wife, Dixie, joined RHUMC in 1974. Carl joined the Chancel Choir in 1976. That means that Carl has been a member of the Chancel Choir for approxi-mately 40 years! Carl joined the Chancel Choir for several reasons: 1. He loves to sing. 2. He always enjoyed singing most hymns in church and improvised on them from time to time; 3. He had been in a church quartet one summer during his early college years.
4. “I wanted to try it, even though I couldn’t read a note — I was able to sing by ear.” Carl considers himself a tenor. “I love to sing; sometimes, rather than eat.” He became involved in music briefly in high school in boys’ chorus and sometimes sang or hummed when he was working in the garden, yard or out on the “Back 40.” For those of you who are not familiar with this farming term, it means the 40 acres in back of your house.
As far as playing an instrument, Carl considers himself a “pianist wannabe.” He took a few years of organized lessons and has spent several years studying on his own. “I have been somewhat successful, but I usually run out of time due to vocal efforts needed for Chancel Choir, Eagan Men’s Chorus, and the Eagan Men’s Chorus sextet. But, I keep trying, because the piano is very helpful for all the vocal work.”
Carl enjoys a wide variety of music, including classical, traditional, barbershop, western, and marching band music. Carl says, “Some music which is especially tough for me includes Randall Thomp-son’s ‘Alleluia,’ Händel’s ‘Messiah,’ and music with a lot of ‘dotted’ flags!”
Carl was born in Bridgewater, South Dakota and grew up on farms in the Chester, Colman, and Madison areas. He attended K-12 grades at Orland Consolidated School, the Country School (north of Colman), the Rudd Country School (south of Colman), and the Chester Consolidated School.
Carl served in the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1956-62. He was a Technical School Instructor from 1957-60 and from 1961-62 he was on inactive duty. He attended South-western University (Method-ist University) in George-town, Texas, for 3 years. While serving in the USAF, Carl attended night school at Colorado University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Math.
After working for 3 years as a Technical Instructor for the U.S. Air Force, Carl worked for 3+ years as a Mathematician for the Dow Chemical Company. Carl then worked as a Program Manager for Control Data for 22 years. He recently retired after 21+ years as a state-licensed Builder/Remodeler.
Carl has served on most committees at River Hills and has enjoyed working on many projects around the church. For almost 10 years, Carl coordinated the RHUMC Habitat for Humanity efforts. Carl estimates that, “During that period, we contributed sufficient volunteer hours to build a habitat house.”
As you may have guessed, Carl’s favorite skill is carpentry. The next time you reach for the Bible or a hymnal from the back of a pew, whisper a prayer of thanks for Carl and John Heitkamp. They are the masterminds who led the team that built, sanded, stained, and installed the book racks on the back of (and under) every pew in the sanctuary. If interested, ask Carl how this all happened. It’s a great story that involved a road trip to Iowa. Another “minor” project that Carl undertook was remodeling the chancel area in the sanctuary. This involved removing the lectern and pulpit, removing the cement-block altar, and installing sound system connections under the chancel area floor. Carl also completed various tasks for the Early Childhood Center.
In addition to music, carpentry, and fixing just about anything, Carl’s hobbies include golf, baseball, and softball. He enjoys golf both as a spectator and player. Carl’s favorite major league baseball team is theSt. Louis Cardinals. “I have followed them since 1946.” When Carl’s son, Jay, was young, Carl coached his baseball teams for 5 years. Does anyone remember when River Hills had a women’s softball team? Guess who coached that team for 26 years? “We had a lot of fun and we won our share of the games. We always stressed having fun, but I always said we had more fun if we won than if we lost!”
I have had the pleasure of accompanying Carl on many vocal solos during the past 7 years. One of his favorite songs to sing on Memorial Day is, “Song for the Unsung Hero.” As I bring this article to a close, I cannot think of a more fitting song for this man to sing, since he is, in many ways, an unsung hero himself.
By Cathleen Harris, River Hills United Methodist Church Organist