Larry Weaver was born October 22, 1949 in Wichita, Kansas. After high school, he joined the United States Navy, where he did three deployments to Vietnam aboard the USS Coral Sea. After getting out of the Navy, he stayed in California working for Grumman Aircraft, Hughes Aircraft, and Gamma F Corporation as a technician/assistant electronics engineer. It was during this time of his life that he discovered a love of both wood-working and sailing. Eventually, he combined both of these interests, and built his own wooden sailboats.
Larry returned to Kansas for a visit in 1990, where at the family reunion of a friend, he met the woman whom he would eventually marry. He moved back to Kansas shortly thereafter, got married and then realized that there were no jobs in that area in the air craft industry. In his early 40s, Larry returned to school, attending Pittsburg State University where he earned a BS in Computer Science. Given his previous experience in the electronics field plus his Degree, he was offered a job at PSU as a Computer systems programmer and analyst. Larry worked for PSU until he retired in 2014.
Larry also loved life on two wheels, owning and riding both a BMW Air-head, as well as a Harley Davidson Street Glide. It was the result of his interest in motorcycling that I ended up becoming friends with him.
Larry and I became acquainted with each other on an internet based Motorcycle forum. The particular motorcycle forum we met on was made up of members from across the United States, who would periodically meet up somewhere for a weekend of riding and camaraderie. In May of 2012, I organized a gathering in Eureka Springs Arkansas and while enroute there we stopped in Pittsburg, where we added Larry and a few more riders to the group. By the time we arrived in Eureka Springs we had 25 bikes in total.
This gathering in Eureka Springs became a yearly event for that group, and generally attracted 20-30 riders. Arkansas was not our only destination however. I also had the opportunity to ride with Larry to the Smoky Mountains in the fall of 2014, and to the mountains of Colorado in the fall of 2015. Larry loved to travel, and truly enjoyed seeing new sights and meeting new people. He did a fantastic job of documenting his travels in photos, which he would share with his wife upon his return home. For as many trips as I enjoyed with Larry, I was not his only riding partner. He also made a couple of other trips to Tennessee, as well as two trips to Sturgis South Dakota, each trip being made with the intention of meeting folks from various motorcycle forums.
Our group returned to Arkansas again over the Memorial Day weekend of 2016. This time, we stayed at a hotel called “The Hub”. During the day, we enjoyed the twisting, turning roads of NW Arkansas, and at night, we enjoyed cooking over a campfire behind the hotel. On Sunday morning, me, my wife, our son, and a couple of friends went and visited a cave not far from the hotel. Larry had mentioned going with us, but decided against it, instead wanting to get back home to his wife. We parted ways, saying words such as “Had a Great Time….See you on the next one”. I had no way of knowing that I would not get the opportunity to see Larry on “The Next One”. Everybody returned home, and discussed where and when we would like to get together again.
On June 21st, Larry departed Pittsburg heading for Townsend Tennessee for another forum based motorcycle gathering. He and the other attendees spent the next four days taking in the attractions in the area, such as The Dragon, the Cherohala Skyway, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. On the last day of the gathering, Larry and a mutual friend who had also attended went their separate ways. Larry struck out on his own, as there were a couple more states he wanted to add to his map of “States I have Ridden In”, before returning home.
He began his trek for home early in the morning of June 26th, planning on riding as far as Van Buren Missouri before stopping for the night. He made an internet post on the afternoon of the 26th, stating that he was stopped in Paducah Kentucky waiting out a rainstorm. This unplanned stop forced a change in travel plans. Larry did not particularly enjoy riding in the dark and when it became apparent to him that he was not going to make his planned stopping point before dark, he decided to stop for the night in Sikeston Missouri.
He called his wife, informing her of the change in plans and letting her know that he was at the Days Inn in Sikeston Missouri. This would be the last time she would speak to Larry.
Meanwhile, three persons known to Law Enforcement were making arrangements to go to Poplar Bluff Missouri to steal a motorcycle. Later investigation revealed that these three had already identified a couple of target bikes in Poplar Bluff, and were on their way to steal whichever one would be easiest for them to get. As they passed by Larry’s hotel, they were able to plainly see his Black Harley Street Glide from the interstate. The fact that they and Larry Weaver’s paths were about to intersect was totally random. Larry was not even supposed to be in Sikeston; the ONLY reason he was there, was the result of being delayed by rain earlier in his trip. The only reason the three thieves stumbled across Larry’s bike, was he had been given a room on the south end of the hotel. His bike, parked in front of his room, was plainly visible from the highway.
Larry would normally call or text his wife when heading out for the day. When she did not hear from him on the morning of June 27th, she attempted to call him, but got no answer. She tried to call a couple of other times during the day, but not become overly concerned until that afternoon, when he was not home yet, and she had not heard from him. On the morning of June 28th, the Police in Sikeston Missouri went to the hotel to check on Larry. By now, it had been nearly 36 hours since Larry had been heard from.
On arrival, they found the motorcycle gone and the door to his room closed. They spoke with hotel staff, and learned that the maid had found the door ajar earlier on the previous day but believed that maybe he had stepped out and forgot to close the door behind him. All of his belongings were still in the room, to include his phone, wallet, extra clothing, helmet, motorcycle jacket, and even his boots. It appeared as though he had simply walked away and left everything he had with him behind.
Through telephone conversation with his wife, the Detectives began contacting people who knew Larry, asking if they had heard from him. When that did not yield any clues as to his whereabouts, the major case squad was activated, and the incident was treated as a missing persons case with suspicious circumstances. The Police obtained recent photos of Larry and his motorcycle from one of the persons Larry had been riding with in the preceding days, and they made Public Service Announcements on the local television news. It was following one of these broadcasts that they began to receive tips: one of these tips came from the would-be buyer of Larry’s stolen motorcycle.
The would-be buyer told Police about being contacted by an individual he knew, who contacted him, wanting to sell a motorcycle. They met to complete the transaction but he did not feel comfortable about it, after seeing that the bike had been winched onto a trailer, still had the steering locked, and came with no type of purchase paperwork. Later that day, or the next, the would-be buyer saw the news story on Larry, and called the Police. Within 2 days of this phone call, all three subjects involved had been identified, located and arrested.
One of the three thieves (probably in an attempt to save his own bacon) told the Police what had occurred, to include the route they had taken upon leaving the hotel. A helicopter began to fly the route described by this person, and Larry’s body was found in a cotton field about 1.5 miles from the hotel. He was deceased, and likely had been for at least four days (he was found on the Friday after he had been reported missing).
The information about them being enroute to Poplar Bluff came from this subject, who was identified as Larenzle Coleman. He also told the police that Larry’s bike was nothing more than a target of opportunity, that they had stumbled across totally by accident. He went on to state that they had just gotten the bike up on to the trailer, when Larry ran from his hotel room, jumping on to the trailer as they drove out of the lot. He said that from there, they drove out into the country, where the driver (who he identified as Ronnie Robinson) stopped on the road.
Coleman said that he yelled to Larry to get the hell out of here, at which point Larry began to walk away. Coleman said that Robinson then chased Larry down, where he beat and hogtied Larry before dragging him nearly unconscious and defenseless into a cotton field. Coleman went on to say that he could hear Larry pleading for help as they got back in the truck and drove away.
Larry was cremated, and his remains brought back home to Pittsburg Kansas. His bike is yet to be found, but it is believed that it was eventually transported to Atlanta Georgia. All three suspects have been charged with Murder, Kidnapping and tampering with a motor vehicle. As a murder occurred during the commission of a felony, this is a Death Penalty case. Ronnie Robinson, Larenzle Coleman and Elsie Coleman are currently incarcerated, pending trial.
Friends, co-workers, students, and many other people whose lives had been touched by Larry attended a Celebration of Life for him on the campus of PSU on July 30th of 2016. Not only was Larry well known on the Campus of PSU for his work and student aid activities, but he also was a Past President and volunteer for the Pittsburg Kiwanis Club, where he was known to go to local elementary schools and read to the 2nd grade students. He also participated yearly at the Ft. Scott Military Cemetery during Operation Wreaths Across America, as well as taking part in the USMC Toys For Tots Ride, every fall.
The group that Larry frequently rode with had developed a history of having an Arkansas Gathering each Memorial Day weekend. Larry’s wife was aware of this tradition, and asked a favor of us: In lieu of a large motorcycle presence at his Celebration of Life, would we be willing to hold a Memorial Ride for Larry?
One of Larry’s favorite areas to ride in was the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Our Memorial Day Gathering will still take place, however in 2017, it is going to be held in Townsend Tennessee. We have three days of riding planned, taking in The Dragon, The Cherohala Skyway, and portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I know Larry will be smiling down upon us.