We write to share sad news. Jack Lenor Larsen has passed away. As much as we knew this day would eventually come, this is a difficult and sorrowful time for us all. Jack left this world peacefully at LongHouse, his beloved home, at the esteemed age of 93. It’s unfathomable that someone so alive, so passionate, so intelligent, so giving of self is no longer. Up to his last day, Jack’s mind was still very much in motion. He was in the midst of launching a new fabric collection; he was overseeing the gardens; he was suggesting ideas for new LongHouse programming. Jack continued to plan for a vital and relevant LongHouse future each and every day. His legacy and his love will live on forever.
Ever lofty and dream filled, Jack was also a brilliant pragmatist. His family was all of us – – those who loved LongHouse and who loved him. His future is all of us – – those who helped realize his dream and worked with the talent, time, and treasures we possess to make that future practical, real, and sustainable. Jack was larger than life and irreplaceable, but we, at LongHouse, will carry on.
Jack accepted his mortality years ago. He created a foundation to ensure that LongHouse will live in perpetuity. He appointed trustees and committee chairs to make certain that LongHouse will survive and thrive. He created structures for the garden, for art, for education, for philanthropy, and for day-to-day management. Staff and volunteers, docents and interns, are all in place and continue to work tirelessly to advance the future of LongHouse. This is our gift to Jack. That was his gift to us.
Jack’s credo guided him and will guide us as we go forward. We will think, in his words, “not of what is maximum, but rather, of what is optimum.” That said, our goal is his…“to stay relevant rather than reverent.”
Being in Jack’s presence was a privilege -- a gift beyond measure. He was a creative and aesthetic genius, attuned to the world in ways that would prove revolutionary. He invented a new kind of public garden, always changing the landscape as his fertile ideas drove inspiration and experimentation. He was engaged with the world around him and looked to the future...always...never accepting mediocrity. Jack turned the ordinary and the commonplace into the extraordinary and unique.
Jack’s genius was undeniable. His vision left an indelible mark on each of us and on communities near and far. How lucky we are to have been a friend of his. How fortunate we are to have been moved and inspired by him -- and, indeed, together we will protect and honor his legacy. Jack was loved. Jack will be missed. To Jack, we say “Thank you.”
We offer our deepest condolences to Peter, Jack’s longtime companion, to his adopted sisters, and to all who loved Jack as family.
Most important, LongHouse is open, now and forever. As Jack would say, “Onward!”