The eldest victim of those slain in the Oregon shooting Thursday is remembered as a multitalented Renaissance man and a lover of the great outdoors.
Larry Levine, 67, was teaching an introductory writing class in Snyder Hall at Umpqua Community College in the town of Roseburg when a student stormed the classroom and killed innocent people.
According to witnesses’ accounts, the gunman first shot Levine at point-blank range before questioning students about whether or not they were Christians and executing them one by one.
“Things like that don’t happen in southern Oregon, and we’re still kind of in shock,” Levine’s friend Dale Greenley said to Yahoo News over the phone. “Larry was a good man, and he deserves a good write-up. He was insightful, kind of quiet — a very nice, laid-back, easygoing person.”
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to confirm the murderer’s identity, preferring that the nine people who died at his hands be remembered instead: Quinn Glen Cooper, 18; Lucas Eibel, 18; Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18; Lucero Alcaraz, 19; Treven Taylor Anspach, 20; Sarena Dawn Moore, 44; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Jason Johnson, 33; and Levine.
“I will not name the shooter,” Sheriff John Hanlin told reporters. “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act.”
Levine, who lived in Glide, Ore., was an assistant professor of English at Umpqua Community College in the nearby town of Roseburg.
The educator was also a dedicated fisherman and belonged to a fly-fishing and conservation group called the Steamboaters. The organization is dedicated to preserving “the traditions and art of fly fishing” on the North Umpqua River and keeping its waters clean and pure.
Greenley, a fellow member of the group, said that Levine was a talented steelhead fly fisherman who has been involved with the North Umpqua River as a guide since the 1970s.
“He wanted to be on the river. He stayed up there, wrote and guided. He was a nice, helpful guy,” Greenley said. “He was a recognized writer, and I’m an aspiring writer. We did a lot of talking about different stories we had done.”
Levine occasionally wrote about his fishing adventures for the group’s website. In one post, he wrote about his “personal theory” about the power of awe to transform someone, temporarily or permanently.
“I see the scene, simultaneously remembering its many manifestations over time, remembering the man viewing it twenty/thirty years ago, and, for too fleeting a moment, the old awe adds intensity to the present. Obviously, the river can also make a person a bit strange and esoteric, but its [sic] a fine madness,” he wrote.
David Furman and Joey Weiss, two close friends of Levine’s from Beverly Hills, where they all grew up, talked to the Oregonian about how talented and caring he was.
“He was the sweetest, most gentle, kind, thoughtful, and creative person,” Furman said to the local paper. “My heart is broken.”
Weiss said that Levin’s greatest frustration in life was that none of the many novels he wrote were ever published.
“Writing was his passion,” he told the Oregonian.
This devotion was even evident on his LinkedIn profile; the influencers he followed had found success as writers, among other pursuits: Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Jeff Selingo and Jack Welch.
According to his Facebook page, he also tended bar at the Wonder Bur Lounge in Grants Pass, roughly an hour south of Roseburg, and followed sports, supporting the Oakland A’s, the San Francisco Giants and the Oregon Ducks.