published September 12, 2013
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Thomas S. Larkin, Jr.
Barbara Larkin 'Whippoorwill'
photo by Lowell McCabe.
We are deeply saddened to report the passing on Monday, September 9, of Tom Larkin. Tom’s life had many facets, but most of us reading this know Tom through his life-long love of orchids and everything relating to them.
Tom was an American Orchid Society judge, an orchid grower who won many awards, an orchid hybridizer who operated his own flasking laboratory and produced award-winning crosses, an orchid photographer, a tireless worker for and supporter of every orchid society to which he ever belonged at local, regional, and national levels, and of course a mentor and friend to so many people.
Tom and Barbara, upon “retiring” to Rogers, Arkansas to operate Whippoorwill Orchids full time, found that was there was no local orchid society. Undeterred, they located some other Northwest Arkansas orchid growers and, in a meeting at their home on April 28, 1996, founded the Orchid Society of the Ozarks. Tom, with Barbara’s able help, has guided OSO since then and his knowledge and counsel will be sorely missed.
Tom was born October 31, 1937 in Leavenworth, Kansas the son of Thomas S. and Dorothy Potter Larkin. He was a Contracts Management Officer for the United States Government, and retired from General Services Administration in 1992. Tom grew and hybridized orchids for 63 years. He was heavily involved in the orchid world and was an honored lifetime member of both the Orchid Society of the Ozarks and the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City. He served as a committee member for both the Mid-America Orchid Congress and the American Orchid Society. Tom was a Senior A.O.S. Judge. Some past offices held include Director of the Orchid Digest Corporation, Director of the International Phalaenopsis Alliance, Member of Board of Directors of The Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, Vice President of the Slipper Orchid Alliance, and Vice-chair and training Director of the Mid-America Judging Center. He also belonged to the Southwest Regional Orchid Growers Association. Tom deeply affected the lives of many people he came in contact with as he took them under his wing and tutored them to become experts in the orchid world. He was a living legacy. Known for his attention to detail, he was self taught in many areas such as building greenhouses and dollhouses, electrical wiring, plumbing, carpentry and landscaping. He was known to all and will be remembered for his great character, charm and wit. He was a member of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Rogers.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years Barbara A. Shawger Larkin; children Thomas S. Larkin III of Shawnee, Kansas; Terrance J. Larkin and wife Robin of Shawnee, Kansas; Debra L. Larkin of Kirkwood, Missouri; Vanda T. Larkin Owen and John Stroberg of Olathe, Kansas and Jay K. Larkin and wife Faith of Springdale, Arkansas; two sisters Theresa Reid of Bonner Springs, Kansas and Tana Burns of Canton, Michigan and his brother Terrance A. Larkin of Independence, Kansas; four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and nineteen nieces and nephews.
Services for Tom will be at 10:00 am Friday, September 13, at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 1416 West Poplar, Rogers, with visitation at 9:30 am. If you have orchid flowers in good condition with long stems that you would like to contribute to be used in a spray for Tom, they must be delivered to Benton County Funeral Home by Thursday afternoon. OSO Vice President Lois Geren (ph. 479-521-5311) has offered to help coordinate this effort.