Lawrence Robert Meisner died Sunday, Sept. 16, at his home near Newton after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 91.
The son of Oscar Joseph and Gladys Victoria Ossian Meisner, Larry was born March 21, 1927, in Stuart and was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith. He grew up in Des Moines and Altoona, where he attended high school until he turned 17 and joined the Navy in the closing months of World War II. He was a Seaman First Class, serving as a signalman on the USS Chandeleur and the USS White Marsh and navigating twice through the Panama Canal. He also spent time as part of American forces occupying Japan after the war’s end.
Upon returning to Iowa, Larry completed high school through a program for veterans at East High School and Des Moines Technical High School. After training at Coyne Electrical School in Chicago, he worked for Mark Electric and Iowa Southern Utility Co. In 1953, he founded his own company in the basement of his Newton home.
Over the next 50 year, Meisner Electric Inc. grew to encompass large commercial and institutional projects in several states. The company maintained offices in Waterloo, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and Delray Beach, Fla.
With his friend, Bill Yeager, Larry founded the Iowa chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors in 1974. Larry then turned over to ABC an apprentice training program that he had developed at Meisner Electric. Today, the Iowa Chapter of ABC is the seventh-largest chapter in the country, and it has the largest apprentice training program.
Larry married Edna Ruth “Bebe” Gorgas Oct. 24, 1948. They lived briefly in Monticello before settling in Newton, where Larry loved the beautiful tree-lined streets. Bebe and Larry were members of the Newton Country Club, and they participated in square dancing and the Friday Night Neighborhood Potluck Club. Larry also served on the Newton School Board and was a former member of the Newton Jaycees.
In his younger days, Larry piloted his own airplane for business and pleasure. He also enjoyed playing golf, fishing, big-game hunting, boating and playing cards with his family and friends. Larry and Bebe traveled to Europe, Africa, Alaska, Mexico and Central America and for many years wintered at their homes in Florida.
Larry is survived by his children, Janet I. (Tim D.) Onnen of Newton and Boynton Beach, Fla.; Patricia A. (Ricky D.) Bazal of Newton; and Joseph D. Meisner (Jane Schorer Meisner) of Urbandale. Also surviving are six grandchildren, Erik A. (Deborah) Onnen of Edina, Minn.; Sarah R. Onnen of Boynton Beach, Fla.; John M. (Laura Jean Bergren) Bazal of Monroe; Aaron J. (Julia Kemper) Bazal of Clive; Laura A. (Damon L.) Apps of Socorro, N.M.; and Merriah R. (John L.) Hyde of Des Moines. Additional survivors include two step-grandchildren, Megan C. Schorer of Waukee and Tommy R. (Kari A. Dennler) Schorer of Iowa City; nine great-grandchildren, William Lawrence and Amelia M. Onnen, Suzanna R., Ezekiel M. and Peter J. Bazal, Theo M. and Leona O. Bazal and Eloise I. and Charles E. Apps; and one step-great-grandchild, Alexis J. Schorer.
Larry is also survived by his older brother, George Meisner of Scappoose, Ore.; younger siblings, Bill (Shirley) Meisner of Cedar Rapids, Joan Robinson of Pleasant Hill and Marcella “Dugan” Hellyer of Los Cruces, N.M.; a sister-in-law, Joann (Eddie) Smith of Newton and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife in 2016, his parents and a grandson, Sean E. Meisner.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at Pence-Reese Funeral Home in Newton. Funeral services will be at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, also at the funeral home.
Memorials may be made to the Jasper County Historical Museum or to the Kimberling Usher Research Laboratory in the Institute for Vision Research at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
We, at Pence~Reese Funeral Home and Cremation Services, believe that serving begins with caring and that caring is an attitude of the heart. We strive to express this attitude in our lives, in our business, and with our friends.
310 North 2nd Avenue East P.O. Box 576 Newton, Iowa 50208