Louise Bekman Larew
- October 22, 2023
Louise Bekman Larew
Louise Bekman Larew, 92, of Iowa City passed away after a short illness on August 18, 2023. She was at home and surrounded by her family at the time of her death.
A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2023, at 4:00 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church, 2701 Rochester Avenue, Iowa City. The service will be preceded, at 3:00 p.m., with an informal social gathering, and will be followed, at 5:00 p.m., with light dinner. Inurnment will be in the columbarium at the church.
Louise was born on August 7, 1931, in Ottumwa, Iowa to Elmer K. and Grace E. (Redfield) Bekman. She attended Ottumwa High School, class of 1948. While in high school she participated in a variety of activities, including debate. In her junior year, in 1947, she was the only female member of the debate team that won the State of Iowa’s high school competition—resulting in the award to her of a four-year scholarship to attend the University of Iowa as a member of its debate team.
At the University of Iowa, Louise participated in the debate program under the guidance of its legendary coach, Professor A. Craig Baird. In addition to participating in intercollegiate debates in Iowa City and throughout the Midwest, Louise was active in student affairs. She joined the Delta Gamma sorority, where she was president and which group, upon graduation, she would continue to support as an active alum both in Iowa City and Columbus, Ohio. In 1952, she was nominated to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board honor societies as she was awarded a bachelor’s degree. She would later earn a master’s degree from the University of Iowa in Adult Continuing Education.
While attending the University of Iowa, Louise met the love of her life: Richard E. Larew (Dick), a native Iowa City resident, a college of engineering student, a fellow-member of the University of Iowa Debate, and a co-member of the First Presbyterian Church choir. The two of them married while still in college—on December 27, 1951, at the First Presbyterian Church of Ottumwa—and remained so for 62 years, until Dick’s death, April 29, 2014.
The first 24 years of their marriage were spent in Iowa City, where Louise was employed, initially, as a substitute teacher for the Iowa City Community Schools and, subsequently, as an instructor for the University of Iowa’s Institute of Public Affairs. For the next two decades, starting in 1975, Louise and Dick resided in Columbus, Ohio, where Dick had been appointed to The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering’s faculty and where Louise was employed by the Fawcett Center for Continuing Education and Event Planning.
Louise was active in a variety of civic groups and organizations, including: for over 70 years, Delta Gamma and P.E.O. (Chapters HI in Iowa City and BX in Columbus); Questers; the Iowa League of Women Voters; Readers Theatre; and Family Folk Machine. Louise loved to garden, read, play bridge, collect antiques, and travel the world with Dick.
Louise’s core interest, always, was her family—spending time with children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She and Dick attended scores of performances, ranging from piano recitals to musicals and plays to lots of athletic events. With family members she was always up for a game of Monopoly or doing a puzzle. On her own, she loved to garden, she read voraciously (increasingly, mysteries, over the years), she organized play readings, she collected and enjoyed antiques, and she corresponded with friends made over a lifetime.
This brilliant, devoted, loving, often quietly stubborn, yet always humble, person will be remembered fondly by her extended family. As the mother to three children: Richard E.B. Larew (Ann), James C. Larew (Mary), and Elizabeth L. Frost (Scott). As the grandmother to twelve grandchildren: Mary Larew (Sam Southgate), David Larew; James Larew (Jori), Matthew Larew (Caroline), Jean Louise Larew (Trent), Teddy Larew, Daniel Larew (Allie) and Grace Larew; Ryan Frost (Melanie), Julie Frost (Kyle Schumacher), Ashley Olson (Grant) and KatieAnn Bonavita (Daniel). And, as the great-grandmother to thirteen great grandchildren: Eloise and Baer Larew (Matthew and Caroline), Theodore Smith (Jean Louise and Trent) Emersyn Larew (Daniel and Allie); Pascal Southgate-Larew (Mary and Sam); Jimmy, Eric and Nolan Frost (Ryan and Melanie), Ryan and Ashton Schumacher (Julie and Kyle), Elsie and Simon Olson (Ashley and Grant), and Benjamin Bonavita (KatieAnn and Daniel) and Expected Baby Boy Larew (James and Jori).
Louise was preceded in death by her husband and by her parents.
For those considering a memorial gift in honor of Louise, the family suggests any one of the following possibilities: First Presbyterian Church, Iowa City; Regina High School Soccer Program; The Family Folk Machine; the Iowa City Public Library At Home Library Services Program; or the University of Iowa Debate Program.
Online condolences may be shared with her family at www.lensingfuneral.com