HIGHLAND | Larry Vassar, a veteran Highland School Board member and strong community supporter, died Thursday morning.
Vassar, 77, had been on the School Board a total of 32 years. Vassar was first elected in 1978 and served through 2002. He was off the board for four years after losing his seat but was re-elected in 2006, serving until his death. Vassar has held a variety of positions, including president, but was currently the board secretary. His term would have ended Dec. 31, 2014.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday at St. James Catholic Church in Highland. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday at St. James. Burial will be at Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens in Schererville.
Vassar's son Tim, principal at Colonel John Wheeler Middle School in Crown Point, said his father was the "ultimate" server. There was never anyone in need that my dad didn't reach out to. He gave us a great example to live by. I'm proud to be his son. I'm thankful he didn't suffer," Vassar said.
Vassar said his father went to bed early after saying he didn't feel well, and died in his sleep.
School Town of Highland Superintendent Brian Smith said he visited the family Thursday morning and Vassar's four children and grandchildren were on hand to support Vassar's wife, Nancy.
Smith said Vassar lived an incredible life and was a strong community supporter.
"He loved his community and his church. He was proud of Highland," Smith said.
Frank Bush, executive director of the Indiana School Board Association, said Vassar was very conscientious in his duties.
"He became a friend," Bush said. "He talked a lot about education and how much he cared about educating all of the children. He typified what good school boardmanship is all about in his practices and willingness to help other. He was just a great person in a lot of ways."
Smith said the board will appoint someone to fill the 13 months left on Vassar's term. Interested applicants can apply to the School Board, which will have 30 days to choose a replacement. Meetings will be open to the public.
Vassar is survived by his wife, Nancy, sons Tim; Dan, a Highland town councilman; Patrick, Highland assistant police chief; and daughter Kim Cox.
Vassar, who retired as a traffic and safety manager for area transport companies, has numerous honors and awards. He has served on several community boards and statewide positions including the Indiana School Board Association Region 1 Director, Highland Park Board, president of Mended Hearts Chapter 268, Highland Redevelopment Commission and the Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative Board.