An Encore and then OLLI member for 7 years, NC State Alumnus Larry Kingsley loves everything about words – his favorite OLLI classes are those taught by Dr. Jim Clark with whom he has developed a great friendship over the years. Larry is an enthusiastic member of the OLLI Writers Group and says his peers on that Special Interest Group have been very supportive of his work as they review each other’s stories.
Larry feels strongly that all children should be encouraged to develop a love of reading which will make them better students and in turn good citizens. His prison ministry work over a period of 28 years reinforced that viewpoint, and is a prime motivation behind his involvement in the YMCA after-school program at Briarcliff Elementary School. For five years he has volunteered to help first and second graders with reading and homework and when that is done the children are rewarded with a story. Did I mention storytelling is another of Larry’s many talents?
2 years ago before summer break he asked the children what they would like him to tell stories about after the break. The unanimous response was “sharks!” and the idea for Grippo the friendly shark was born. Larry penned a story about a young shark separated from his mother who is befriended by a young dolphin. There are multiple messages in the heartwarming story, including the importance of being open to friendship with people who might at first seem different than you.
The beautifully illustrated book has been published and the children at Briarcliff Elementary in Cary were thrilled to be recognized for their contributions.
But there’s more to this story………… a chance encounter with a man selling Christmas trees from a teepee led to an animation of the story which you can view on Larry’s website www.gripposhark.com
Larry is grateful for the opportunities OLLI membership gives him and his wife Georgeanne to continue to learn as that is so important to them both. He also loves that he meets so many wonderful teachers and friends. Lifelong learning he says “is a way to continue your reason for living.”
This is not the end of the tale by any means, Larry has many more stories to tell!
Joan Hardman-Cobb (OLLI Assistant Director)