Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Man Cave: The Best Man I Ever Knew

Every young man needs a role model...a person they can emulate as they find their way to manhood. I was lucky enough to have been blessed with a role model who was perfect example to me of every manly virtue.

I miss him.

Erling Larsen was my Scoutmaster for my entire career as a Boy Scout. He was a perfect Scoutmaster. Our troop camped under sunny skies and portaged canoes in hailstorms. We slept in tents, igloos, cabins, and under the stars. We hiked across snowy mountain passes and bleak sand dunes. He taught us how to tie knots, lash canoes together for shelter from the wind, and follow a compass. He taught us a million different ways to start a fire, and to never break camp until it was out. Yes, he was a perfect Scoutmaster.

He also taught me many things individually. He had a strong marriage and a happy family. He was honest, honorable, and lived by a code of ethics I still aspire to today. He taught me to set goals and pursue them. He taught me to be industrious, and to work hard for the things I wanted. I labored shoulder to shoulder with him many times, and in those times he always shared little nuggets of wisdom with me:

You can judge a man by how well he does the job he least enjoys.
When you face a problem, create a system that solves it, and then always follow the system.
On being an example to others, he taught me an old Indian proverb: How can I hear what you tell me to do, when your actions ring so loudly in my ears?

He also taught me generosity and charity. In my senior year of high school my family faced a major crisis. In our great time of need Erling came to our aid in several ways, not the least of which was providing my single Mother with a car after ours was totaled by a drunk driver.

Later, as an adult, we crossed paths by chance at a social function. I took the opportunity to tell him how important his example had been to me, and how much I admired him. He was a strong man, but I saw him cry many times. He choked back tears then, and said simply "Let's keep it that way."

A year or two after that he contracted cancer and passed away, leaving me his final lesson: tell the people in your life how important they are to you. Now, while you have the chance.

Yes, I miss him.


  1. I just rant into Ila Larsen yesterday. It was so good to see her doing so well....she asked all about our family. I loved Erling - he was our bishop in Skway ward and just an amazing man. He is missed for sure.

  2. Aaron, this is simply beautiful. Thank you for posting such a heartfelt tribute to a man I also loved dearly.

  3. That is so Awesome! Weldon also still loves his old scoutmaster Bob and he calls from time to time. Now weldon is the Scoutmaster and I often wonder if there are boys there that look up to him like you and Weldon did to yours. That is so neat that he helped your mom out. I love hearing stories of all the people that have been so good to your family!