Robert ‘Larry’ Gearhart

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Robert “Larry” Gearhart, age 79, of Northumberland, Pennsylvania and Grass Range, Montana passed away on Saturday evening, July 7, 2018.

Larry passed away while listening to stories of Montana and soft country music with his faithful dog, Gus, and his family by his side. No doubt, Larry was headed West on a horse toward a sunset and God, and his wife, and other loved ones who passed before him.

Larry was born at the Mary Packer Hospital in Sunbury on Aug. 8, 1938. He was raised in Northumberland and Sunbury by his parents, Ethel Leighow (John Butler) and C. Robert Gearhart (Irene Stover), and his grandparents, Clarence and Martha Gearhart. His Grandpa Gearhart would treat Larry to a Western movie at the Rialto and Strand movie theatres in Sunbury when time permitted from the farm. That’s when Larry’s love of the West began.

Larry lived in the hills and valleys of Pennsylvania and amongst the Little Snowies of Montana. He and Gladys Schrey married on April 30, 1980 in Lewisburg and settled there until his passion for mountains, streams, and good hunting took them to Barbours, along the Loyalsock.

Larry was an avid sportsman. He hunted and fished in many parts of our country including Alaska. He also enjoyed parts of Canada including British Columbia and the Yukon. In his youth, he spent many hours fishing in streams, on lakes, and on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and Lake LaPeche in Canada. His favorite place of all was Montana, the Big Sky Country, where he and his wife eventually settled.

Larry was also a golfer and a straight shot with a rifle and a pool stick, despite a childhood affliction with a “lazy” eye. He bought his first car with winnings from a pool match at Stahl’s pool hall in Sunbury.

Larry graduated from the Sunbury High School in 1956. He lettered in high school football and played center. During his youth, he worked on his grandparents’ dairy farm and was also a bus boy at their dairy store and restaurant in Oaklyn, just outside of Sunbury. After high school, he joined the United States Air Force and was stationed in Texas. He was honorably discharged due to a visual disability.

Larry began working at the former Rea and Derick plant in Northumberland until an opportunity arose that changed his future. B.O.Dauberts, an HVAC and plumbing company in central Pennsylvania, hired Larry in their sheet metal shop. He studied at trade schools in Pennsylvania to help him advance in this field. Years later, he became the president of the company and changed its name to Silvertip, Inc. Silvertip refers to a grizzly bear. Larry was rarely without paper and pen making copious notes of plans for future work or hunting and fishing trips with his buddies.

Larry was a man of strong convictions, faith, and determination. He was an extremely private person. If you were fortunate enough to gain his trust, you were his friend, business partner, and employee until the end. Larry and Gladys hosted family and friends in all of their homes, but Larry was quick to jump in his truck and take them to Red Lobster in Pennsylvania or Montana, or Tedd’s Landing in Shamokin Dam and other fine eateries in both states if the “farm work” had been completed and he and Gladys needed a break.

Just as his Gearhart ancestors from Jeckenbach, Germany blazed new trails and worked the land when they arrived in the mid-1700s in what eventually became present day Columbia and Northumberland counties, Larry was a good steward of the lands along Loyalsock Creek near Barbours, Pennsylvania and the lands along Flatwillow Creek and McDonald creeks in Grass Range and Forest Grove.

During the transition from life in the East to life in the West, Larry and Gladys sold Silvertip, Inc. and began a successful cattle business in Montana on their Whitepine Ranch and with their partners in the Spur Cattle Company. His childhood dream came true.

Larry enjoyed a good steak on the grill or a cheeseburger topped with a slice of onion and ketchup, Snickers, and an ice cold pepsi or beer. He often had a stick of peppermint gum and a pen tucked in a shirt pocket. Good old country music could get his foot tapping, and he had a memorable whistle.

Through the years, Larry had dogs by his side, often springer spaniels. He and Gladys also found joy in raising Persian cats. Later in life, and during Gladys’s illness, they adopted Gus, the Yorkie, who became a therapy dog for Gladys and eventually Larry.

Over the years, Larry was a proud member of the NRA, Sunbury Grouse Club, Northumberland Gun Club, Susquehanna Valley Country Club, Eagle’s Mere Country Club, and organizations related to the beef industry.

Larry is survived by his daughter, Toni Rice and her sons: Jason (Mary)Kline and their children, Brennan and Carly; Luke (Jessica) Shellenberger and a son expected later this year. Larry is survived by his daughter, Teri (Curt) English and their sons: Kyle English and his sons Devon, Caeden, and Kullen; Kale (Kayla) English and their daughters, Tasiana and Kaelyn. Larry is also survived by his brothers Barry Gearhart, James Stover, and their families; Gladys’s sister and brother-in-law, Linda and Dale Shaffer, and their family; cousins, and many friends.

Along with his wife, Gladys,

who passed away after years of illness on Dec. 20, 2014 in Montana, Larry was preceded in death by his sonin-law, Attorney Carl B. Rice, his mother-in-law Naomi Shrey, and Gladys’s brothers, Bill and Wayne Schrey. He was also preceded in death by his parents, stepparents, grandparents (Clarence and Martha Herrold Derr Gearhart and Gernon and Anna Marshall Leighow), great aunt Ethel (Jesse) Leighow Lentz, and great-grandparents (Frank and Mary Flora Shipe Gearhart), who were part of his youth.

Larry’s family will provide flowers and appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers. Donations, instead, could be made to the following:

Montana 4-H Foundation, Box 173580, Bozeman, MT 59717-3580; Grass Range Methodist Church, 202 East 4th Street, Grass Range, MT 59032; United Lutheran Church, 167 Seven Points, Sunbury, PA 17801; Sun Tech Foundation, Attention: HVAC and Plumbing Department (to aide students in need of tools, uniforms, books, etc.), 815 East Market Street, New Berlin, PA 17855.

Larry’s family would like to thank area caregivers and contractors who worked tirelessly to help us keep Dad in his own home, the staff in the department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Manor at Penn Village, the staff and those associated with the Evangelical Community Hospital and Geisinger Medical Center, the Union/Snyder Area Agency on Aging, the people of Montana who helped Dad and Gladys during her illness and helped Dad after her passing, and so many others who met Dad and helped him during this journey.

“Learn this well…the last ride is never the last ride and the end is not the end.” ---Richard Rowland

Funeral arrangements are by Jerre Blank of Blank Funeral Home. The funeral will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Jerre Wirt Blank Funeral Home, 395 State St. Sunbury, Pa.

The service will be conducted by Pastor Andrew Weaver of the United Lutheran Church, Sunbury, Pennsylvania.



Where is your favorite place to go camping in Central Montana?