David R. “Dave” Larsen, 75, a longtime Parsons resident, dedicated husband, father and friend, entered heaven’s eternal gates on Wednesday evening, Nov. 2, 2022, at his home in Parsons.
He was born on June 18, 1947, in Parsons to Melvin and Margie (Manners) Larsen. At a young age, his family moved to Shawnee Mission. He lived there with his parents and four brothers until he graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School in 1966.
In September 1966, David entered active duty with the United States Navy and served four years in the service. He was stationed for boot camp in San Diego, California. After boot camp, he was at Bremerton, Washington, before serving a tour of duty aboard the USS Ranger in Vietnam. From there he went to Korea when the USS Pueblo was captured. After that stay, he traveled back to the U.S. where he was then sent to San Diego for survival, evasion, resistance and escape training and language school.
Once his training in San Diego was complete, he was sent to Vietnam again serving inland on River Patrol boats. During this stay, David received the Navy Cross, two Purple Hearts and several other honorable medals and awards. When David would share his stories of this time in Vietnam, he would state that “all he was trying to do was stay alive and make it back to Kansas.” After a year of serving with the River Patrol, he traveled back to the states, landing in San Diego where he was stationed aboard the USS Oriskany for one year. David served in the Navy Reserves for a year.
Because of his heroic actions, Gunner’s Mate Third Class David R. Larsen received many awards, medals and honors for his time serving his country. He was awarded the Navy Cross, Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts, two Navy Achievement medals, a Vietnam Camp Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Experience Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with six stars, Combat Action Medal, Presidential Unit Citation Medal, Gallantry Cross Vietnam Medal and the Kansas medal for serving from the state of Kansas.
On Nov. 12, 2001, the mayor of the city of Parsons proclaimed it David R. Larsen Appreciation Day and named a Parsons street after him. Another significant honor is a Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument in Coronado, California, on the naval base, where David’s name is engraved. His heroic actions have been mentioned in several books about Vietnam and his military career has been featured in two movies, “Combat Zone,” which debuted in 2007, and “Weapon Hunter” in 2015. David kept in contact with the men he served with on the river patrol boats and attended reunions every two years.
Even after his service time was completed, David would continue to serve his country and community for the remainder of his life. He was a life member of the Brown-Bishop Post No. 704, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and was a past master and member of the Parsons Masonic Lodge No. 117, A.F.&A.M. David also was a past president of U.S. Gamewardens Association of Vietnam, as well as a member of the U.S. Gamewardens Board of Directors. For his community, he served as part of the Parsons Planning Commission and Parsons City Commission. In addition, David also was an active volunteer firefighter for 15 years with the Neosho Township Fire Department.
On June 29, 1968, David married Mary Atherton at Parsons Foursquare Church. Following their marriage, she lived with her parents while David went to Vietnam for the second time. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June 2018. David and Mary were fourth-generation families and lifelong members of Parsons Foursquare Church. He was dedicated to serving and spent time on the Parsons Foursquare Church council as well as the Foursquare camp board.
While David was serving, he and Mary lived in California for a short time. When David left the Navy, they moved to Kansas City, Kansas, and stayed for about five years. During this time David worked for the United States Postal Service as a mail carrier. While in the K.C. area, Mary and David had a son, Kenneth David Larsen, who preceded them in death.
After their son was born, they bought a bowling alley in Fredonia, where they lived for about two years before selling the business and moving to Parsons, where he and Mary lived, surrounded by family and loved ones in the area. David’s next adventure was a business he and his father started, Larsen and Sons Foundation Co. He later retired after 26 years of serving the Parsons area.
David was a stranger to no one and found great purpose sharing his love for Jesus and testimony of his life’s successes, joys and challenges with those around him. David was authentically and wholeheartedly there for those in his life. He could be regularly seen at the donut shop, the Foursquare Church office visiting with staff and various businesses throughout the town. He loved working with his hands and physically building a life he and Mary loved. He had a healthy way of balancing his family and work life, all while serving the community in his off hours. He fully enjoyed what he did and those he met. David made the time to show up for everyone who reached out, providing caring, trustworthy and sound counsel always. He simply wanted to brighten lives in his days, and that he surely did. Peace and caring permeated him, and kindness felt like it was his middle name. He will be missed by family, friends, fellow military servicemen and women and neighbors.
He is survived by his granddaughter, Dustina Joe Larsen and great-grandson, Rune, of Goddard; grandson, Zach Tyler Stice-Larsen and his fiancee, Sydney Sullivan; and great-granddaughter, Zaylee of Erie; grandson, Jacob Taylor and his wife, Tressa Larsen, and great-granddaughter, Talia. He is also survived by three brothers, Bob and Peggy Larsen of Overland Park, Gary and Julie Larsen of Portsmouth, Virginia, and Kevin and Shelly Larsen of Grand Junction, Colorado; two sisters-in-law, Mickey Powell of Parsons and Clova Abshier of Texas; a niece and his caregiver, Debra Grundy of Parsons; and many other family members and friends.
In addition to his parents, David was preceded in death by his wife, Mary; and his son, Kenneth; a brother, Steve Larsen; and two brothers-in-law from Mary’s sisters.
An honorable celebration of life service will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Carson-Wall Funeral Home in Parsons with Pastors Steve Schulze and David Keaton officiating. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday at the funeral home. David will travel by horse-drawn carriage to his final resting place at Oakwood Cemetery with military honors given by the Navy funeral detail and the Brown-Bishop Post No. 704, Veterans of Foreign Wars, in Parsons.
Memorials can be made to the Parsons Foursquare Church or to the Zaylee Larsen Transplant Fund for his great-granddaughter’s kidney transplant expenses. Memorials may be left at or mailed to the funeral home, P.O. Box 942, Parsons, KS, 67357.
Online condolences may be left at www.wallfuneralservices.com.