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Robert Y. "Bob" Larsen
December 27, 2023
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Needham artist Robert Y. ‘Bob” Larsen, remembered for his spirit, generosity, and talent, passed away peacefully on December 27th after 95 years of a well-lived life. Bob often said he was always meant to be an artist and he expressed his passions and talent in all media and styles. He was trained at the Yale School of Fine Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design. His formal work was exhibited at the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, the Copley Society of Art, and the North Shore Arts Association.
He also served as the editorial cartoonist for the Needham Times for over a decade and won first prize for editorial cartooning from the New England Press Association in 2003. He contributed his talents during a lifetime of volunteer service in Needham, including providing the design for the war memorial for Needham’s “Fallen Brave.” His portraits of Needham officials are displayed in several buildings throughout the town. His cartoons of Needham life have been displayed at the Needham History Center & Museum, and his artwork exhibited at the Needham Free Public Library.
Bob was proud to have served his country in the Army, having enlisted in the Connecticut National Guard while at Yale. He was called to active service at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, and graduated from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1952. He was assigned to the 65th Regiment, 3rd Army Division and led a mortar platoon in Korea from January – June 1953 and received his Combat Infantry Badge for that service.
Bob married the love and center of his life Elizabeth “Lizzie” Brown in 1951 while on active duty. They first settled in Schenectady, NY after his discharge in 1953, where his first job was in the Art Department at General Electric. They moved to Needham in 1963 where they were active in many social and political organizations and Bob continued his career as a free-lance commercial artist.
Bob was also a devoted public servant, representing the townspeople as a Town Meeting Member for 47 years. He was particularly active with the Needham Exchange Club, where he was awarded the Needham Exchange Club’s Extraordinaire Award. He designed banners, t-shirts, parade floats, and for many years the cover of the Exchange Club’s annual Needham Phone Book. Bob was also the recipient of the Needham’s Richard Patton Melick Foundation Award in 2014 for community service.
Bob is survived by his son Jeffrey and his wife Shawn, son Steven, and grandsons Connor, Colin, Aidan and his wife Dana. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 63 years Liz, grandson Ryan, and daughter-in-law Gail Robinson.
Gifts in Bob’s memory may be made to the Needham History Center & Museum, 1147 Central Ave Needham, MA 02492 or any cause of choice. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday February 3, 2024 at the Needham Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 2498, 20 Junction Street, Needham, beginning at 2pm. All are welcome to celebrate Bob’s life.