I am long overdue in writing you following the recent and abrupt death of your father, and my lifelong friend, Larry,
It was not possible for me to be at his graveside service, but my sister was. Every name I asked her about was there evidencing the sincere affection for your father over the years by so many admirers.
But I was at his graveside the following Tuesday.....just Larry and me.....alone.
The earth was still fresh-mounded and I spotted a single issue of the children's book he wrote to his grandchildren about frogs. I sat down on the concrete bench there....along with your Dad, buried next to your grandmother .....and read his book. His magnetic personality came back to me in an instant; I could visualize him reading the same book to his grandchildren. I made an entry on the first page to memorialize my visit...and signed it. I came back a few weeks later, and found others had done the same, but some thoughtful visitor had put the book in a clear plastic container to protect it from the weather. I signed it again.
Among my old youthful photos is one of your father at my 4th birthday party; that was 69 years ago! When I ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006, your Dad sent me the first check I got in the mail,....yet he was a Democrat! We were at Leon HIgh together in the late 1940s, until he graduated in 1951. When he was in the Army, he gave me a .50 cal ammo box, which I use as my traveling tool box to this day. Just a few months ago he came by The Grove to pick me up for dinner; my 96 yr-old mother was on the back porch. She could not see him, but she recognized his voice, and was thrilled. Her parting admonition to us was "now you two boys be careful of what you eat, and stay away from dynamite tonight!". Larry enjoyed life more than anyone I have ever known, and he lived it fuller than anyone I have ever known.
He was SO PROUD of his children; you can recall I sat with him during your investiture as President of the Trial Lawyers of Florida during an annual convention in Tampa several years ago. He may have been the most optimistic person I have ever known; when comparing with my Dad, that is saying a lot. I miss them both.
Since Larry used his book to mark his road traveled, I do some of the same with my Dad's book on Florida history, which he wrote in 1969 after losing his race for the U.S. Senate. I have enclosed a copy for your enjoyment. Thanks for your personal dedication to your profession, your family, and the people of Florida.
/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.