Rev. Dr. Lawrence's Story

Text size

BILLINGS, MONT. - Mom and Dad are together again. Lawrence Farnsworth Small Sr. died on Sunday, March 1, 2015. Here, in his own words, are his remembrances of his life:

Lawrence F. Small Sr. was born in Bangor, Maine, on Dec. 30, 1925, the youngest son of Maine educator Irving W. and Geneva M. Small. Family included three brothers and his maternal grandmother, who shared childhood memories of the Civil War. Warm family life provided enduring associations, recollected in his "Gleanings From a Marine Childhood." Music figured prominently in his family life. Schooling in Bangor was followed by graduation as class valedictorian from George Stevens Academy in Bluehill, Maine, in 1943. Summers at the family home by the ocean were notably memorable, including two seasons of lobster fishing. He met Elfie Joan Ames of LaGrange, Maine, in April of 1945. At the vital center of his life, their wedding in 1947 would bring over 63 years of married happiness. Higher education came at Bangor Theological Seminary, B.D.; University of Maine, B.A. and M.A.; and Harvard University, Ph.D. He was ordained to the Congregational Christian ministry (now UCC) in 1950, serving parishes around Boston and Paramus, N.J. His interest in teaching led to a position in January of 1959 as Associate Professor of History and Political Science at Rocky Mountain College. What was seen as a three-year stay in the west changed when he became Academic Dean in 1961, serving in that post until January 1965, when he was asked to be Acting President. He served as President from 1966 to 1975, fulfilling years for the college as a liberal arts institution. He returned to the classroom in 1975, retiring in 1990. That was the year he helped to found the Institute for Peace Studies at the college, serving as the Board Chair until 2008. From 1984 to 1990, he served halftime as Executive Director of the Montana Association of Churches, in that position attending the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Canberra, Australia. Larry and his beloved Elfie enjoyed foreign travel, including several cruises abroad. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Beta Honorary Societies, and was listed in several professional biographies, including Who's Who in America. He was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Rocky in 1992, elected to the Alumni Hall of Fame at Rocky, Distinguished Service Awards and 2013 Governors Award in the Humanities. His professional and community service included Chairs, Montana Commission, Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963 (1965-74); Chair, Board of Directors Western Independent Colleges Foundation (1968-73); State Liaison Officer, American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education; Member, Board of Trustees Billings Deaconess Hospital (1969-75); Past President and lifetime member, Billings Kiwanis Club. He and Elfie were charter members of Mayflower Congregational Church, UCC, and active in community groups such as Town and Gown, Yellowstone Corral of the Westerners and Yellowstone Historical Society. Dr. Small's publications included a two-volume study of Religion in Montana (editor and major contributor) and a two-volume history of Rocky Mountain College. A selection of poems was published in 2010 as "Reflections."

He was preceded in death by his son, Daniel Irving; his beloved wife, Elfie; brothers, Donald, Gerald and Harland. He is survived by daughters, Kathleen Wiseman (Russel), Linda Collins (Larry) and Larry Jr. (Peggy); five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; and several nephews and nieces.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at Mayflower Congregational Church. A private interment will be in Mountview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please send memorials in his name to Mayflower Congregational Church, The Institute for Peace Studies at RMC, Rocky Mountain College, RiverStone Hospice Home or the charity of one's choice. Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary is assisting with arrangements. Condolences may be made online at www.michelottisawyers.com.
Published on  March 7, 2015
Send flowers
in memory of Rev. Dr. Lawrence
See more

Obituary published in

Arrangements by


Share this story with a friend.