In Memory: Larry Tolle

Long-time referee Lawrence “Larry” Tolle passed away after a brief illness on February 15, at IU Health and Methodist. He was 80 years old.

Born in 1938, Tolle graduated from Elwood High School at the age of 15, earning a football scholarship to Purdue University. While an injury forced Tolle to give up his football career, he quickly found a new love in the sport of rowing. Tolle joined the Purdue Rowing Club and took on the role of coach upon graduation, while he studied for a Ph.D. Tolle, who also was a member of the Purdue Glee Club, graduated from with a B.S. in 1962, a M.S. in 1964, and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 1966.

Later, Tolle became a USRowing referee, spending more than 50 years officiating regattas across the country. Tolle was instrumental in the development of many regattas in the Midwest, including the Big Ten Championships, and was honored with USRowing’s Julian Wolf Award in 1999, given to a rowing official that stood apart from the rest in their contribution to rowing during that year.

“Larry essentially had two lives in rowing,” said a Purdue friend and fellow referee. “The latter life was one as a referee, but the former was to be a visionary for Purdue Crew. Even when he wasn’t in the state, Larry always stayed in touch with Purdue. He helped by advising the coaching staff and by facilitating the hiring of the club’s first full-time coaches. It was his vision and perseverance over the years that led to Purdue’s $1.6 million boathouse filled with a full stable of Resolute shells.

When Tolle moved back home to Indiana in 1988, he became the regional representative to the Referee Committee for the Midwest. Indianapolis hosted the first world championships in the U.S. a few years later, and Tolle served as course manager for that event. He played a key role in helping develop the Eagle Creek rowing venue, which hosted the worlds. Tolle continued on as a referee and as an advocate, advisor, and friend to Purdue rowing until his passing.

Tolle is survived by his wife of 57 years, Alice (Bobbie), three children, two grandchildren, and his sister.

A memorial service celebrating Tolle’s life will be held Saturday, March 30, at 11 a.m. at West Street Christian Church located at 132 N. West Street in Tipton, Ind. Visitation will take place the same day from 10-11 a.m. More information on the memorial service can be found here.

Donations in Tolle’s honor may be made to: Purdue Crew (Rowing Club), 500 Brown Street, Lafayette IN 47906 or West Street Christian Church, 132 N. West Street, Tipton IN 46072.

Information compiled from Taylor & Cowan’s obituary notice and additional resources.

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