Dr. Lawrence E. Witt, MD, of Junction City, a former resident of Brookings, passed away Friday, March 13, 2020, in Eugene, after a lengthy illness. A private celebration of life is planned later this spring.
Doc Witt and his wife, Dr. Marie Witt, PhD, had their practices in Harbor for 25 years -- his in family practice medicine and hers in mental health.
Larry had many passions, including travel and photography. He valued music and the arts, enjoying many performances at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville and at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Larry was welcoming to all family and friends, quick with a helping hand, and offered friendly advice whenever anyone was in need.
He was proudly a life-long learner of many subjects, at many institutions, and he always encouraged others to pursue their educational dreams and interests.
Most importantly, Larry loved the many gatherings of people that he was a part of, where family and friends joined together to swap stories and re-connect, usually with some really cool music playing in the background.
Larry Witt was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri, on Jan. 16, 1947, the son of James Thomas and Frances Nelson Witt. His father’s career in the Army Air Corps took the family to the Gulf Coast of Texas; Biloxi, Miss.; London, England; Washington, D.C.; and Panama. Larry also spent his own Rotary Youth Exchange year in Piedras Negras, Mexico.
Larry said he “aced” the College Boards and National Merit Scholarship Tests as he was finishing high school in San Antonio, Texas, in 1965. As a result, a teacher guided him to Reed College in Portland.
While at Reed, he met his future wife when he was a single parent who took lodging -- and found babysitting services -- in the home of Marie Rering and family. Larry and Marie married at Cape Perpetua State Park near Yachats on Aug. 12, 1972.
“There is still a legend about the hippie wedding and the champagne,” Larry wrote in Marie’s obituary. “I once had a VW bus, wore tie-dyed shirts, had long hair and all that stuff … I lived in a commune for a while, then moved out to the woods with Marie.”
Larry spent more than a year driving log trucks, a job he quit after having to jump from a truck that was about to roll down a hill.
He then earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon -- where Marie was earning her doctorate in psychology.
The couple spent the next 10 years traveling and studying at more centers of learning. Marie completed an internship in Houston. Larry completed medical school in San Antonio, where his computer science work included data analysis for the National Institutes of Mental Health.
Remembering his earlier volunteer work at the White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Larry chose family practice as his medical field, leading to three years of residency at Stockton Family Practice in California.
After his residency, the Witts spent three months traveling around the country in a motorhome, trying to decide where to settle. They arrived at the coast of Maine and knew that they wanted to live by the ocean, but since both families were on the West Coast, it made sense to find a place in Oregon or Northern California. They moved to Brookings in 1983, where he took a family practice position and she opened her mental health practice. They built and opened their own practice in Harbor in 1989.
Marie and Larry practiced together in Harbor for 25 years, collaborating and consulting daily. He would recall, “It was glorious having a loved one to argue with regularly.”
The family escaped small town living by traveling as often as possible, usually accompanied by the children and at least two of their friends. Their philosophy at the time was that they would spend the money on travel and educational experiences for their young sons, "living in the moment" rather than saving for retirement.
Dr. Witt also enjoyed involvement in their sons’ activities -- coaching basketball, chaperoning school trips as well as personal outings, and getting a permit to launch Fourth of July fireworks from their home overlooking the mouth of the Chetco River..
The Witts also supported other scholastic activities, from Montessori School funding to anonymous prizes for high school academic competitions.
In the late 1990s, they bought a house in Ashland to save on costs for their sons and others attending Southern Oregon University. The house had more than 50 residents over 15 years, with at least 14 graduating from SOU. That included a degree in history for Doc Witt, following the lead of three of his children.
Their lifelong travels continued into retirement, and Larry has instructed that his travel photos and videos be preserved for members of the family. After closing the practice in Brookings, he ran an employee health clinic for Intel, worked in the Veterans Administration hospital system, and consulted on legal cases with his lifelong high school friend, Joe Blanks.
Dr. Marie Witt preceded Dr. Larry Witt in death in 2017, after 45 years of marriage. In 2018, he moved to Junction City.
Dr. Larry Witt is survived by domestic partner and long-time friend Kathleen Kosche.
He is also survived by daughter Pamela, her husband Otis, and their children Sierra and Marshall; son Larry, Jr. and his wife Kristina; son Christopher and his son Ashby; son Matthew; his sister Cornelia Mydlowsk and her family of two daughters, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren: a special great-niece, Alanis Mydlowski; sister-in-law Charlotte Rering; brother-in-law Johan, and his children Caitlin, Amanda and Jacob; “Texas daughter” Belinda, her husband Joe Sr., their children Joe, Celestina, and Damion, and grandchild Cipriana; God-children Emerson and Ruby Rose, and their mother Carla; and numerous friends and staff over the years.
Dr. Witt’s ashes will be buried in Brookings alongside his family. While Larry left gifts to many charities in his estate, the family suggests donations in his memory to Doctors Without Borders, online at https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/onetime.cfm.
Private gathering later this spring.