Baltimore, Maryland lost its premier mineral dealer and a lot more with the June 2 passing of Larry Krause. Just about every local collector was both a customer and a friend. Dealing minerals was only one of the many hats Larry wore. Most of them extended far beyond the interests that bind us mineral people together. Regardless of the hat he was wearing, what most lingers in the memory is of Larry himself and the spirit that drove him. He was gentle, kind, opinionated, motivated by challenges, driven by ethics, civic-minded, cultural minded, good-humoured, and he had a great marriage.
Larry and I go back nearly 33 years, most of which had nothing to do with minerals. My earliest memory is when he as publisher and Alice as editor---they would marry five years later---engaged me as a writer for the Baltimore Chronicle. We spent many hours together over weeks, months, perhaps even a year before Larry mentioned that he collected minerals, which had been my hobby as a child. Soon thereafter, he took me to collect iridescent siderite at Arbutus Canyon along Washington Boulevard (long since paved over by Home Depot). As enjoyable as the experience was for me, a lifestyle encompassing two jobs, two children, and two acres precluded me from resuming this hobby that had been all but forgotten for 25 years.
Larry had a lot of other responsibilities as well during this period. They included publishing at least five community newspapers, two magazines, and a book. He also founded two nonprofits, and had prominent roles with more than several other organizations, among them the Baltimore Mineral Society, which he served at various junctures as secretary, vice president and president.
I stayed in touch with Larry, writing for four of his publications and serving on the boards of directors of two of them. In 1989, I began writing a weekly column entitled "Jake About Town" for the Chronicle. It related to everything that was offbeat about Baltimore's culinary scene.
"Jake About Town" became so much a part of my life that in 1992, I sold the home service brokering business which had been my livelihood for 21 years and launched a company to produce a line of extremely exotic canned soups. Though the soup business never made me rich, it replaced the worries associated with responsibility for thousands of jobs taking place in peoples' houses every year with a level of happiness and a sense of fulfillment I'd never before known. Were it not for Larry, this probably never would have happened, and I mention it only because of the role he played in getting me back into minerals, which became the next chapter.
During the final decade of his life, Larry gradually transitioned from publishing community newspapers to devoting more time to his mineral collection and Octahedron Minerals, the sideline business started years before. It wasn't long before the enormous two-room basement of his and Alice's house was filled with minerals from floor to ceiling. His personal collection was in one of the rooms, Octahedron's inventory in the other.
Around the time I sold the soup business in 2004, to earn more money in real estate and start thinking about retirement, Larry invited me to accompany him to a meeting of the Baltimore Mineral Society and encouraged me to purchase some minerals from him. By this time, I was telling people that minerals were "something to pursue when I get older." Though my life continued to be crammed with other commitments, Larry had soon sold me enough minerals to justify creating a space in the basement to display them. Shortly thereafter, the childhood passion that 45 years before had given way to sports, girls, and other adolescent distractions reinstated itself full force.
After learning that he had cancer, Larry began to sell off in earnest the inventory of Octahedron Minerals as well as his collection. He did so mostly by inviting specific collectors, usually in small groups, to come to the house and shop. Though receiving more than my share of invitations, and wanting to be there, I was out of town on most of these occasions, but recall all too clearly the one that I resisted. Our house already had more rocks in it than we had appropriate space for, and I wanted to see more of them moving out---a slow and tedious process when selling them on line---than coming in. How secondary that concern proved to be when realizing now the opportunity I missed to have had just a little more time hanging out with Larry.