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Carl S. Larson

September 23, 1934 ~ January 10, 2021 (age 86)


URBANA, IL - Carl S. Larson, 86, of Urbana, IL, passed away peacefully at 10:30 PM, Sunday, January 10, 2021 at Carle Hospital.

A private family burial will be held at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Champaign. Memorial services will be held at a later date.  Renner-Wikoff Chapel, 1900 S. Philo Rd., Urbana, is assisting the family with arrangements.

Carl was born September 23, 1934 in Berwyn, IL, son of Carl Uno and Marian (Woelfel) Larson.  He married Vivian Peuckert on December 28, 1957 in Chicago. She preceded him in death on March 15, 2018.  Survivors include three sons, Carl W. Larson (Jennifer) of Chicago, IL, Michael J. Larson (Lori) of Mahomet, IL, and Daniel M. Larson of Urbana, and four grandchildren, Maggie, William, Jack, and Grace. Two sisters also survive, Lois Hrejsa of Forest View, IL and Marilyn Mulder of Naperville, IL. 

Born in Berwyn, IL to Carl and Marian Larson, Carl learned and never lost his values for family, hard work, character, kindness, education, community, and good fun and laughter along the way. He shared this journey with his two loving sisters, Lois and Marilyn, whose relationship would evolve from a pestering brother in youth into two great friends that would travel, laugh, and support each other throughout life.

His professional life reached a crossroads in his late teen years. While working at Sloups Hardware for many years and the future possibility to take over the store one day, Carl was also exploring his love of math and mechanics at Morton Junior College in Cicero, IL. His studies at Morton would lead him and two of his closest friends to take a fortuitous trip to Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 1954 to visit the University of Illinois campus; a trip that would change his life in many momentous ways. Carl would go on to earn his B.S. (1956), M.S. (1958), and Ph.D. (1965) from the College of Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. While completing his graduate work, Carl also began teaching in the classroom and found yet another great passion: working with and educating students. Carl was delighted to join the Illinois faculty full-time as an Assistant Professor in 1965, following his mentors like Jim Bayne and so many others. Carl would rise to Professor before retiring Emeritus in 1994. While he had many highlights throughout his career as a Professor, Carl often cited his integral role in expanding and modernizing the ME Design Course that gave students real-world, practical experience working on projects for companies like Caterpillar as a personal highlight.

While teaching, Carl also joined the administrative staff in 1974 at Engineering Hall as an Assistant Dean of Students. Carl embarked on a second-career in administration and further expanded on his joy of working with students. Carl’s office, led most of these years by Dean Howard Wakeland, was a special place of friendship and support. While he would be embarrassed mentioning the following, throughout his career at U of I, Carl received accolades that included Outstanding Faculty Member from the Dad’s Association, Honorary Knight of St. Pat’s from the College of Engineering, and the Illinois Athletic Association’s Honorary Varsity I Award. Carl was also an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the American Society for Engineering Education. Carl also did private consulting for numerous domestic and international clients and was on the Board of Directors for the Capsonic Group.

While this professional timeline is significant, nothing more important came from that first trip to campus than meeting his wife Vivian. While both were on dates with other people, they met by chance on a campus bus, and well, the rest is their story. Carl would add a third sister to his life, Vivian’s sister Marilyn Foster, a special friend and sister-in-law throughout their adult lives. In Vivian, Carl found a partner and friend, a beloved wife and mother, a traveler of the world, and one of the great party hosts in Urbana-Champaign history. It might be elaborate shows at Tail Great in the 1980s, Oscar parties, New Year’s Eve, Halloween, Kentucky Derby parties, wedding rehearsal dinners, family Thanksgivings, and so much more. They absolutely loved hosting their family and friends and sharing good company and always plenty of great food. Their circles of friends meant the world to them and treasured the travels and laughs that they had all along the way.

Carl loved the Illini, holding season tickets at the Assembly Hall since it opened and the same football season tickets for nearly 40 years. Carl was also a long-time member of the Elks, serving many roles in the local chapter throughout his life. While a teenager he also found two more joys in life: golf and fishing. He would spend the rest of his life chasing that little white ball and walleyes across North America. Later in life he would become a founding member of the Dew Sweepers, a group of golfers that had a standing tee time every Saturday morning as the first group of golfers off at the U of I Orange/Blue golf course. He also fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Augusta National for the Masters tournament. He traveled north of Winnipeg, Canada every summer for 40 years with friends and family to fish for Walleye and Northern Pike. Carl always said that “he was best at vacation.” Carl and Vivian traveled near and far throughout their lives, sharing lifelong memories with one another. Carl loved to laugh, and secretly held a desire to be a stand-up comedian. His friends often noted that Carl must have had a thousand jokes at the ready, which he did along with an impressive library of books on humor. 

Carl S. Larson loved his wife and sons and daughters, simply adored his grandchildren, cherished his nephews and nieces, and collected a group of friends and colleagues that are the true testament to his life. And he gave all of us one of the greatest gifts throughout our lives: he believed in us. Carl lived a robust life, left a lifelong impression on countless people, and was loved by many. We will miss you always. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Carl S. Larson Transfer Student Award of the University of Illinois Foundation via the link below:

At the bottom of the webpage is a category “Other,” and here contributors should enter either the fund number or fund name in the “Other” category.

Fund number is 11770573.

Fund name is C. S. Larson Transfer Student Award Fund.

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