By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
MARLBOROUGH – Friends and family of late Marlborough resident Larry Grella took a lap around the Ft. Meadow Reservoir before spreading rose petals across the surface of the lake Larry loved, Aug. 8.
A month after his death due to cancer, this boat parade saw several dozen gather to celebrate a man who they say was a pillar of the tight knit community of neighbors around the reservoir.
“He loved this lake,” Larry’s wife, Phyllis, said in an interview with the Community Advocate shortly before the parade. “He always loved this lake.”
Married for 63 years, the Grellas first moved to the Ft. Meadow Area in 1971.
“As soon as we moved here, he had to buy a boat,” Phyllis said of her husband.
Larry taught his sons how to waterski, entering them into competitions. He later worked on a powerboat racing team.
Long before Ft. Meadow, Larry served in the Navy. He spent four years, from 1956 to 1960, mostly on board the USS Columbus. There, he began work as an electrician, according to his obituary.
Phyllis recalled stories her husband would tell of the Navy’s “swim calls” where he and his fellow sailors would leap overboard to enjoy swimming breaks while at sea.
“He loved being on the ship,” she said.
More than a decade after his service, Larry and Phyllis moved to Marlborough because of two neighbors that they already knew in the area.
The couple saw the community grow around them.
“It made Larry so happy,” Phyllis said.
Later in his life, Larry fought through what his obituary described as “a long battle with cancer.”
He eventually passed away on July 9 of this year, with his funeral taking place five days later, on July 14, at the Immaculate Conception Church.
Larry’s grandson, Jake, then took on the task of coordinating a boat parade as another opportunity to remember his grandfather.
Come Aug. 8, boats, indeed, filled Ft. Meadow. First, they skirted the shores of the lake. Then they gathered beside the Grellas’ waterfront home to spread their rose petals.
“For me, having lived here 50 years, you never realize your impact and the impact of the life that you live,” Phyllis said. “We never realized our impact until Larry died.”
“When he died, and so many people came forward to honor him, it was just remarkable,” she continued.