By Ernie Macgillivray
A few thoughts about Larry Pearce, who left us recently after a lifetime of service to Canada and Canadians.
Larry was young at heart, but old school – that is to say a substantial person, a noble soul, a gentleman. He clearly adored his family and friends. He appreciated colleagues and let them know it. In this year of fear and confusion and loss, it would be hard to find a better person to take us by the hand and show us the way. Alas, Larry has left us now to our fate, if not on purpose, and we are diminished.
There is undoubtedly a list somewhere of twenty attributes of a great leader. Larry ticked all the boxes. He was a perennial optimist, who thought the best of people and humanity. You could always count on Larry for a sincere warm welcome, a mischievous conspiratorial twinkle, and most importantly, unbridled enthusiasm. Larry invested in people and relationships. He resolved conflicts, built bridges, brought people together and fostered good will and collaboration wherever he could. He inspired us to do our best and he made us all better. Larry did what the best leaders do, he made the team better and stronger and took his satisfaction from the team’s success.
Larry always did more than his fair share of the work, whatever the role, encouraging others in the process. His senior years were accompanied by both adversity and infirmity, yet he never stopped contributing. He inspired a generation of us, by personal example, asking us to raise the bar, to learn more, to collaborate better. He and his partners largely achieved those things, working diligently over decades. Never satisfied, Larry would observe that there is still so much to do. He’s quite right about that and we need more like him to get it done.
What Larry was most proud of and perhaps should be best remembered for is being a champion for the profession and practice of emergency management. He saw the need and, with a vision of how to make things better, acted on it. His legacy includes the Canadian Research and Hazards Network (CRHNet), CRHNet Symposium and HazNet, three uniquely Canadian resources for the emergency management community. Each of these was intended to contribute to the body of knowledge, promote research and evidence-based policy and decision making, and foster professionalism. Larry, for his part, humbly played down his own contributions and held out praise for others, especially his life partner Laurie. In truth, if we have been an effective team, it is because we had Larry as our coach and Laurie as the general manager.
My fondest memory of Larry remains sitting with him in his living room, taking in a spectacular view overlooking Indian Arm with a glass of wine in my hand. We were waiting patiently for Laurie to get home from work. He smiled broadly and asked, what should we do next?
For more on Larry and his legacy, there is a celebration of his career in the Fall 2017 edition of HazNet (Celebrating Larry Pearce | HazNet). His obituary may be found here (Larry Pearce | Obituary | Vancouver Sun and Province (remembering.ca)).