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“A wise teacher makes learning a joy…” (Proverbs 15:2, TLB)

Laurence Robert “Larry” Thoren Sr., having fought the good fight, finished his race on Feb. 1, 2020. Larry’s life was one that impacted many. A skilled and passionate teacher and coach, he did more than teach students or coach athletes; he impacted their lives in significant and lasting ways. As a father and pop-pop, he was the endless source of wisdom, insight, and obscure facts that he used to teach important lessons. He will be profoundly missed but affectionately and thankfully remembered.  

Larry was born in Chicago, Illinois on Jan. 11, 1941 to Rev. HE and Madeleine Thoren, while his father was attending Moody Bible College. Upon completion of his course of study at Homer Central High School in Homer, New York, Larry attended Eastern Baptist College in pursuit of a degree in history and where he also played basketball. While at Eastern, “Grassy” (his basketball nickname) took special notice of the pretty young woman who would become his wife and the mother of his four children, Elizabeth Hill. Not wanting to let such a prize slip through his grasp, Larry proposed and they were married on June 8, 1963 before he graduated from Eastern in 1964. He went on to serve as a faculty officer instructor at Valley Forge Military Academy, under General Milton G. Baker from 1964-68. While at Valley Forge, he completed a master’s degree from Temple University in 1967.

Larry and his family put down roots in Canton, Pennsylvania in 1968 when he came to teach at CHS. It was at Canton that he would make a lasting impression in the classroom and on the hardwood that would make him one of the truly treasured teachers and coaches of his generation. Larry was a reading specialist, in addition to teaching college psychology and history. Not only did Larry teach academics, he taught fundamental life lessons even as he taught the Xs and Os of basketball to young men and young women for nearly 30 years at Canton. He was an outstanding head coach and prepared his teams for high achievement, especially the Canton Girls Basketball team that became a district powerhouse under his leadership.

Larry also became a fixture in the community. He served for a time as the interim pastor of Ward United Methodist Church, in addition to filling in as a lay preacher in several local churches. He was an active member of the Canton Lions Club, having served as president and was the long-time chairman of the Sight Conservation Committee. He found great satisfaction in serving on the board of New Beginnings. Until he was no longer able because of his illness, he enjoyed attending North Street Community Church.

Larry is survived by his loving wife of 56½ years, Elizabeth Carolyn Thoren; his oldest son L. Robert Thoren, Jr. (Robby) of Canton; his son Chris and his wife, Pam (Pierce) and family of Canton; his daughter Karen and husband, Scott Norton and family of Troy; his daughter Gretchen and husband, Nick Shaffer and family of Salem, Virginia; 17 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren; a sister, Linnea and husband, Jay Brown of Port Republic, New Jersey; along with several nieces and nephews. In addition, the family wants to acknowledge with gratitude and love, the gracious service of Hadley Utswanga as he helped to care for Larry at the end of his life.  

Besides his parents, Mr. Thoren was preceded in death by a sister, Louise Marie Thoren.

The Thoren family invites you to remember Larry’s life and legacy with them at North Street Community Church on Feb. 5. Visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m. with a service to follow at 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you would make a donation in Larry’s memory to New Beginnings located at 8607 RTE 414, Canton, PA 17724.

Please share condolences and special memories at the Pepper Funeral Home and Cremation Facility’s website,

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