Lawrence “Larry” Skretta

Monday, September 11, 2017 1:25 pm

Lawrence August Skretta, or Larry, as he was known to everyone, died peacefully Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at his home overlooking his beloved hometown of Decorah after a long illness that he fought with courage and stubbornness. He was 64.
Mass of Christian Burial is at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Decorah, with Rev. Phillip Gibbs officiating. Organist is Mary Beth Bouska. Cantor is Cindy Schissel. Hymns are “Here I am, Lord,” “Amazing Grace,” “On Eagle’s Wings” and “Let There be Peace on Earth.” Lectors are Jessica Hageman and Annalea Bohr. Offertory gift bearers are David and Matt Skretta. Eucharistic ministers are Joe Skretta, Dorothy Skretta and Dennis Rausch. Honorary urn bearers are Larry’s grandchildren: Simon, Liam, Lizzie and Charlie. Arrangements are being handled by Schluter – Balik Funeral Home in Decorah.

Larry was born Dec. 23, 1952, which meant his birthdays were forever overshadowed by the arrival of Christmas. He was raised in Fort Atkinson in a close-knit family headed by his father, Ed, and his mother, Agnes. He was one of six boys and two girls, and spent his youth fishing in the Turkey River, playing baseball with his brothers and friends, and making the kind of small-town mischief that we all look back upon with an erstwhile sense of innocence. His family operated a restaurant and a produce store, and Larry would spend summers after graduating from Turkey Valley High School painting houses to earn money for college. He wound up attending Northern Iowa, where he somehow managed to overcome a profound apathy toward homework to earn a degree in education. Larry liked to say that school was harder back then – grades have become watered down over time – and all those B’s and C’s that were scribbled atop history papers would have in fact been A’s today. With that line of thinking, it was no surprise he turned toward a career in construction rather than education. He began working for Myers Brothers, a small road contractor, before spending the bulk of his career working for the Fred Carlson Company. He rose to become the company’s vice president, and held prestigious positions within the Iowa Concrete Paving Association and the Associated General Contractors of Iowa. As proud as he was of his career, Larry was most proud of his family. He was 25 when he met a fetching young waitress at a supper club in the tiny town of Frankville that he would one day marry. Norma took her vows to heart, too, standing by Larry through his diagnosis for lymphoma and countless rounds of chemotherapy, and was still by his side when he took his last breaths. Together they had two boys, Matthew and David, and encouraged them to seek out their own passions in life. For Matt, that meant taking to the skies and traveling the world as a pilot for United Airlines. For Dave, that meant trotting the globe to cover the Olympics and other major events as a sports writer for The Associated Press. As the boys married and began families of their own, Larry’s own legacy continued to grow. Matt and Amy gave him two grandsons, Simon and Liam, while Dave and Kelly provided his first granddaughter, Lizzie, and another grandson, Charlie. All of Larry’s hopes and dreams live on through them. Larry had passions of his own, though. His golf game was wonderfully mediocre, bad enough that it caused him endless consternation but good enough that he managed two holes-in-one. He traveled to Central America with buddies on numerous fishing trips, and drove race cars with them in Charlotte and Atlanta, though it was an African safari that he took with his wife that he talked about the rest of his life. His passion for sports manifested itself in cheering for the Panthers and Hawkeyes, the Braves and the Packers. And those teams, and Brett Favre in particular, brought him equal amounts unbridled joy and soul-sucking heartache. Larry enjoyed simple things: a cold beer at the end of a hot summer day, presiding over his Weber grill, and taking care of his pristine yard at the dream home he built overlooking the Upper Iowa River valley.

He is survived by Norma, his wife of 39 years; sons Matt (Amy) Skretta of Staunton, Va., and Dave (Kelly) Skretta of Lenexa, Kan.; four rambunctious grandchildren; brothers Joe (Marcy) Skretta and Mark (Rebecca) Skretta of Fort Atkinson; sister Jeanne (Joel) Schnitzler of Lima, Mont.; mother-in-law, Arlene Lansing; brothers and sisters-in-law: Gail Butterworth, Carolyn (Dennis) Rausch, Dean (Gail) Lansing, Brian (Janelle Burkhart) Lansing, Darla (Greg) Schnuelle, Donna (Roger) Kolsrud, Jim (Mary Jean) Balik; and the numerous nieces, nephews and extended family members that come with the consummate Catholic family.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ed and Agnes Skretta; brothers: Jimmy, Francis and Ray Skretta; his sister, Charlene Balik; and his father-in-law, Lawrence Lansing.

Submit A Comment

Fill out the form to submit a comment. All comments require approval by our staff before it is displayed on the website.

Notify of
0 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments