Professor emeritus Robert Larson dies

Robert Larson in his lab.

Robert Larson in his lab.

Robert Larson professor emeritus in pharmacy and toxicology at Oregon State University, died Oct. 28, 2014 while on vacation in Bergen, Norway with his daughter, Stina. He joined OSU in 1965 and retired in the late 1990s, moving with his wife, Dawn, to Hood River.

Larson was a native of Spokane, Wash., and received his bachelors and masters in pharmacy from Washington State University. In 1964 he received a Ph. D. in pharmacology from the State University of Iowa. Before coming to OSU, he worked at the Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology with the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

One of his areas of research was hepatotoxicity, that is, liver damage caused by chemicals or drugs. While at OSU, he took two sabbaticals to conduct research in Sweden and Germany. He also was awarded the School of Pharmacy Outstanding Professor Award in 1971, 1972, 1976 and 1984.

In addition to his research, Larson was a dedicated world traveler and a musician who played clarinet and saxophone. After retirement and the death of his wife in 2002, he continued to combine his passion for travel and volunteerism. He journeyed to South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Borneo where he volunteered with organizations rescuing animals and preserving their habitat.

Former colleague Gary DeLander, Executive Associate Dean and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at OSU, recalls Larson as someone who was passionate about both his work and his home life.

“I always saw him as one of the last scientists who I would truly call a ‘Renaissance man,” DeLander wrote. “In a time when the tendency is to continually narrow our focus in science, he was curious, thoughtful and informed on just about everything; and really encouraged everyone to follow his lead in maintaining a breadth of perspective. That coupled with him truly being a ‘gentle’man was incredibly meaningful for a younger (but now in my 60’s) colleague in pharmacology. “

His wife, Dawn Larson, and his sister, Ellen Brown, preceded Larson in death. He is survived by his two sisters, Ruth Larson and Irene Wesel; his daughter Laurel Medinger, her husband Julian Medinger and their three children; his daughter Stina Larson and her husband Donald Kiesling Jr.; and his son Eric Larson.

A Celebration of Life will be held 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Banks Community United Methodist Church in Banks, Ore. A tribute to Larson can be viewed at http://healgrief.org/robert-larson-10282014/ and thoughts can be shared there or sent to robert.larson.rembrance@gmail.com

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