Lawrence Huiskamp Burdick passed away on May 17 with his devoted wife Kellie at his side. He was 59. For more than a year, Larry struggled against a glioblastoma brain tumor, enduring two surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation – and gaining several additional months of active life. During that time, Kellie and Larry rode bikes, explored Hawaii, visited the family cabin, and enjoyed many trips to parks and local beaches. Despite Larry’s courage and optimism, the tumor could not be conquered.
Larry was born in the fall 1963, on the Presidio in San Francisco, the third child of Claude Owen and Margaret Huiskamp Burdick. When he was only a few weeks old, the Army sent the Burdicks to Camp Zama, Japan, where Claude was the pathologist in a hospital treating the Vietnam wounded. For more than three formative years, Larry explored Japan with the family, riding in the back of a red Volkswagen bug on family drives with his father, climbing the stone Buddha at Kamakura, walking through piles of cherry blossoms, and delighting Japanese ladies who happily fed him dried octopus and other delicacies most American children would not touch.
In May 1967, the family moved to El Paso, Texas, where the arrival of Larry’s younger brother, Jack, significantly raised the status of the Burdick children in the eyes of neighborhood children who could only boast about a hamster or gerbil. Over time, Larry’s sisters began to outgrow stuffed toys, and young Larry became concerned that they were neglected. His bed became a refuge for each forgotten plush animal, until there was hardly room for him to slip between the sheets. Larry’s true character – the gentle giant – was beginning to emerge.
After two winters in Massachusetts, the family made its final move, to Livermore, in May 1970. Larry attended Almond Elementary School, East Avenue Junior High and Livermore High School, graduating in 1982. During these years, Larry grew as a journalist and developed a love of reading that never diminished. At college in Bradford, Massachusetts, Larry studied writing under Andre Dubus, honing his skills in narrative fiction. After completing his degree at CSU Stanislaus, Larry returned to Japan twice as an English teacher, then settled back in Livermore where he sold books and savored community life. From behind the counter at the Book Oasis, Larry made many friends and no enemies.
When online sales forced his bookstore to close, Larry turned to teaching, serving as an adult educator for several years through Five Keys Charter School, then teaching middle school English and Social Studies at Livermore Valley Academy. With his childhood friend, Jim Jarvis, Larry published a historical fiction mystery, Murder on the Barbary Coast: A Sweeping Tale of Murder, Betrayal, and Boundless Corruption. The novel begins as a rollicking ride through San Francisco’s wild west beginnings and closes with a love letter to Livermore.
Larry’s life took a beautiful turn when he met his wife, Kellie. Their 14-inch height difference made them a striking couple, whether entering the Bankhead Theater to attend the opera, dancing in the street at the Farmers Market, or just team cooking for a family gathering. Their mutual affection and respect were a model for any marriage.
Larry was preceded in death by his brother Jack (1985) and his mother (2021). He is survived by his wife Kellie Burdick, father Claude Owen Burdick, sister Katherine Burdick Wilson (Eric), sister Roberta Burdick See (Thomas), niece Sara Wilson Basturk (Baris), nephew Ian Burdick Wilson (Shelby), and nephews Charles Claude See and Daniel Christopher See, as well as by his father-in-law Walter Sanchez, sisters-in-law Shellie Sanchez (Tresy Wilder), Joanne Sanchez, Amber Sanchez Frick (John) and Ashley Sanchez Wagner (Thomas). Services are pending.