"To call Larry Caine “officially retired” is to use that term somewhat loosely.
He is retired from the job he held in the insurance business for more than two decades, but that really only means he’s traded it for a handful of other pursuits.
Larry came to Colorado after living on both sides of the country, as well as somewhere in between. He was born and raised in Berkeley, California. “It was an interesting place to grow up in the 1960s, in the middle of the counter-culture and the free-speech movement,” he says. “I was involved with church, sports, music and The Boy Scouts, which pretty much kept me on the straight and narrow.” In the latter, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, a distinction he says he “wears with a certain degree of pride and pleasure.”
He met his wife, Debby, when both of them worked on staff at a music camp in the northern California redwoods; and they married while still in college. He was 21. They will celebrate their 43rd anniversary this coming September 1st. “I suspect that our mutual love of music is one of the things that’s kept us close all these years,” he smiles.
Following college graduation, Larry hit the streets with a briefcase full of résumés, going into every office building in downtown San Francisco. He would check the building directory for businesses with an HR department and then personally deliver a résumé, since the “traditional” method of mailing them had met with no success. It was how he managed to secure entry into his 20-year career in the insurance business.
“The person who interviewed me suggested I might be good at underwriting. I agreed. And then as soon as I got home, I looked up the definition of the word and then learned as much as I could about the subject before I started the job!” From underwriting, he moved into sales, and then into sales management. “I was probably a less-than-average salesperson, but when promoted, I discovered I had an ability for sales leadership.”
This was obviously true, as subsequent promotions took Larry and his family, which now included daughter Jenelle and son Jim, to Chicago and then Piscataway, New Jersey. Following a company buy-out in 1997, Larry saw the writing on the wall. “They weren’t going to need two national sales managers.” He and wife Debby decided to make another move, putting together a list of the qualities they wanted in where they would next make their home: a major metropolitan area near the mountains, good sports teams, access to fine arts, and—after Chicago summers—somewhere with low humidity. Denver became their destination point, especially since both of them already had family living in the area.
Larry made the first trip out to Colorado by himself, looking for a job. “I didn’t find a job, but I did find a house,” he says. Debby’s sister was living in Mt. Vernon Country Club, and he found a place for sale in the area. When he called his wife to tell her about it, she urged him to buy it right away, even though she hadn’t had an opportunity to see it. When he asked if she didn’t want to check it out first, her response was, “Buy it! You can change a house, but you can’t change a community!”
And those words have resonated with him ever since. Larry served on the board of directors at Mt. Vernon Country Club from 2000 to 2008. He joined the Evergreen Rotary in 1997, and has been a member of The Evergreen Chorale for 19 years, serving on the board and a term as president during that time.
He is currently president-elect of Rotary. “I’m the guy in training,” he declares. “Right now, I’m keeping my mouth shut and my eyes open to learn as much as I can from the current president, Linda Lovin.”
He’s enthusiastic about everything Evergreen Rotary strives to accomplish. Globally, they work in places like Africa and Central America. “This is not just about giving out money, or deciding what an area needs. We want to help the people help themselves, and to listen to what they have to say. We work on projects that the local population feels are important. It should be about the empowerment of the people who live there.” In Guatemala, for example, they partner with an Evergreen-based organization called Starfish One By One that encourages and assists young women to pursue an education, and to shake off the “traditional” shackles which might see them marrying by age 14 and having children by age 15.
On the local level, Larry is heavily involved in Rotary’s Mountain Area Home and Garden Show, an event that allows the Evergreen and Conifer business community to showcase their goods and services and also for community members to show their support of these businesses. The event has raised close to $180,000 in the last 11 years, money that stays within the local community, providing, in his words, “a hand up, not a handout.”
“I like to say we do some tremendous good, and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it.”
While “officially” retired, Larry has run Lookout Mountain Benefits for the past 10 years, a small insurance brokerage business that primarily helps people wade through the sometimes murky waters of the Affordable Care Act. He also operates Right Light Photography, which specializes in nature, wildlife and travel photography. “It’s the photography business that keeps me sane,” he laughs.
Next up for Larry and Debby will be a two-week trip, a performing arts tour to Europe with The Evergreen Chorale where the group will participate in masses at Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, in Salzburg, and at Regensburg Cathedral in Germany. They will also present concerts in several smaller towns in the Dolomites and other areas of northern Italy. “The Chorale has traveled to Europe before, but it’s been a dream of Christine Gaudreau, our Artistic Director, to take a group of Chorale members to Italy, Austria and Germany to sing,” he says.
Larry and his wife are helping to oversee the preparations and arrangements because they have a history of performance and organizational tours through past church events and because they have traveled extensively for Larry’s photography business. They will remain for two more weeks after the conclusion of the tour, in order to explore areas of Germany they’ve always wanted to visit.
And what occupies Larry’s scarce down time? He’s been an enthusiastic cyclist for years, and both he and his wife are avid readers. And because their daughter and her family live nearby in Northglenn, he gets to spend time with his grandsons, 8 and 10.
“This has been a wonderful place to become invested in our community and to put down roots,” he says.