Cover photo for Marion Larson's Obituary
Marion Larson Profile Photo

Marion Larson

April 4, 1934 — June 3, 2023

Barnegat Light, NJ

Marion Larson

AS PUBLISHED IN THE SANDPAPER.....

With her passing June 3, Barnegat Light commercial fishing industry matriarch Marion Larson is remembered as a respected businessperson and a “legendary” woman in the local community.

Marion and her late husband John founded Viking Village commercial fishery in Barnegat Light with the late Louis Puskas and his wife Frances. Marion was her husband’s bookkeeper until his death in December 2009 when daughter Karen Larson assumed duties to assist her, including the business operations of the 90-foot-long fishing catamaran, the Miss Barnegat Light, 61 years on the water.

Generations of the family are still involved in the fisheries industry. Eldest son Kirk Larson, mayor of Barnegat Light and a commercial scallop fleet owner, started in the business by working for his dad and mom at a young age before going out on his own, and then becoming partners in 1978 with his mother and father in buying a commercial scallop boat, the Grand Larson. The Grand Larson was the first scalloper in Barnegat Light, Kirk Larson said. Son Keith has been running the operations of his mother Marion’s scallop boat holdings.

Karen Larson recalls that paradoxically, the seagoing vessels brought out a fear even when her mother was young. “She was not a fan of boats, and in the second half of her life she never set foot on any boat.”

Born in 1934 in Newton, Mass., and growing up in Beach Haven, the daughter of Muriel Howard Oliver and Edmund Oliver graduated from Barnegat High School in 1951 as the valedictorian. She was also a star basketball player on the girls team. It was at a high school dance when she was 14 years old that she met her future husband, John. They had seven children, Kirk, Karen, Kris Larson Panacek, Keith, Karter, Kraig and Kathy, who passed away on April 24, roughly a month before her mother.

Raising seven children, taking care of them while her husband was at sea, and administering the office part of the business, kept her very busy. Children gathering thoughts for an initial obituary wanted to make the remembrances “a celebration of life with laughter included,” they said, because their mother had a great sense of humor.

“Discipline was a must and she meant it,” added her eldest daughter. When 10-year-old son Keith used the “F” word once, Karen recalled, “she charged out the back door for him with a bar of soap in her hand. Unfortunately, Keith was much quicker than her and she never caught him.” Another of many anecdotes: “Her 8-year-old son Karter was put on an offshore tuna seiner the day after school let out in 1970. Dad had him go for a three-day experience that ended up a 60-day experience. She counted all the kids at the dinner table one night in July and thought ‘someone is missing.’”

Daughter Kristine wrote on social media that their mother, also known as “Manya,” “had a full and wonderful life,” and will also be missed by her 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild, all her boat captains and so many dear friends.” Growing up with two older sisters, Muriel and Chloe, “there was always much laughter in the house, and that laughter continued throughout her life,” family said.

“All children grew up and lived in town in her later years,” noted one. “So there was always someone coming to visit. If not family, it was the many friends she had.”

The coffee klatch at How You Brewin in Barnegat Light drew so many friends and acquaintances that a sign above the bench denotes “Marion Way.” At one time there were more than 30 people gathering in the early morning. “Laughter was the key at that coffee klatch, which is why so many new people would join in.”

Marion Larson was part of the Barnegat Light Volunteer Fire Co. Auxiliary in past years and an avid supporter of the Barnegat Light Historical Society for all her time in Barnegat Light.

A memorial service will be held June 16 at 2 p.m. at the pavilion at Sixth Street and Bayview Avenue, Barnegat Light.

— Maria Scandale

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Friday, June 16, 2023

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