Larry Owen Tadlock

1933 - 2022

Korean WarVietnam War

Their Story

Larry Owen Tadlock was born to Helen Irene (Shull) and Grant Owen Tadlock on June 5, 1933, in a rural farmhouse four miles east of Moravia, Iowa, in Appanoose County, Taylor Township.1 The farm had no running water, indoor bathroom, or electricity. He was one of six siblings.

Heating the house in the winter in the early years and cooking year-round was done with wood harvested, sawed, hauled, split, and stacked from trees on the farm. Around 1943, they changed to coal and eventually to fuel oil. When Larry turned 15, they finally got electricity.

Larry learned many things from his dad that were valuable throughout his life. The most valuable thing he learned was how to fix things that broke. He became somewhat of a legend in the eyes of his children who often said, “Daddy fix.” The lesson of greatest value was about work ethic. Children on a farm were assigned chores, such as gathering eggs, pumping water, hauling manure and hay, feeding lambs and chickens, milking cows, washing and drying dishes, plowing, planting, hoeing and harvesting the garden, ironing and folding clothes, filling the wood box, and canning food, among others.

During his last summer at home, Larry was offered a job in the Waterloo area learning a new way of farming and farm community way of life. His experiences there on the 25-cow dairy and the 30-sow hog operation, in addition to him growing up on a farm, was a guidepost on his way to his later career as a veterinarian. The vet visited often, and Larry helped him and was very interested in and fascinated with the work.

Larry longed to be back in school, though, so enrolled at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University). To help make ends meet while attending college, he made donuts in the wee hours before school in the Memorial Union and washed dishes in the evening. He continued dating his future wife during this time, who was also from Moravia, and even bought an engagement ring. She was a basketball star during high school, even leading the team to the state tournament in 1951.

Larry was a poor college student that first year and decided to volunteer for the draft. So, in September 1953, he joined the Army. He was inducted in Des Moines and then bused to Fort Riley, Kansas. That first week, the only food was tea, Honeydew melons, powdered eggs, and celery. During week two, he was sent to Camp Chaffee, Fort Smith, Arkansas, for a year and one half. The sixteen weeks of basic training was spent in an artillery battery (105 Howitzers). He was with Co. A, 47th Armored Infantry Battalion, 5th Armored Division.2

On January 10, 1954, during a visit home to Moravia, Larry married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Joan Callen. He and Joan returned to Camp Chaffee where he then went to leadership school to learn how to be a noncommissioned officer. After that, he was assigned as an instructor in small arms weaponry. He did teach a future Harlem Globetrotter how to throw a grenade.

A year later, after a new duty sergeant arrived, Larry was left off the duty roster for a few weeks. He checked in each day to get his assignment but having none, he spent time with his new wife and even got a part-time job. But he was eventually discovered and immediately put on orders to go overseas. He and Joan went on leave first, though, and set Joan up at her parent’s house as she was pregnant.

On June 5, 1955, his 22nd birthday, he boarded a train in Ottumwa, Iowa, headed for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. While at Kilmer, Larry was chosen to help move a WAC (Women’s Army Corps) battalion to Fort Dix. During the week it took for the move, his assigned company went by ship to Germany. When Larry returned, he was flown by Military Air Transport Service to Frankfort, Germany, and bused to Göppingen where he was assigned to the 34th Field Artillery Battalion3 (155 Howitzers) at Schwabisch-Gmund, 50 km east of Stuttgart.

His job in Germany was to care for the 90 M-1 rifles, 30 carbines, 10 22-caliber target rifles, 4 45-cal. pistols, 4 50-cal. machine guns, and 2 30-cal. machine guns. He also had occasional guard duty and drill. Thirteen times during his service there, he earned three-day passes that he could never afford to use.

When it was time to go home, he was a specialist 4 and traveled by troop ship. His not-so-private room was deep in the bowels of the ship just in front of the engine room. There were 480 men in a small, hot, and humid room. Crossing the English Channel was rough.

Upon discharge in September 1956, Larry met his daughter, Larianne, for the first time. Joan and Larianne met him in Des Moines when he arrived on the 5 p.m. plane from Ft. Sheridan, Illinois, after spending 14 months in Germany.4 She was 10 months old. He then re-enrolled at Iowa State College. He knew it was time to get serious with his studies. He was accepted into the Veterinary School. Joan and new daughter, Larianne, moved to Ames with him.5 He excelled this time, graduating 12th in the class of 62 in 1962 with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

During those school years, Joan worked various jobs to help support the family and pay for school. She even was awarded a PHT from the Veterinary school – Putting Hubby Through. Also, during those years, Larry and Joan had three more children, Sherri, Mark, and Jann.

His first job was in Moline, Illinois, in 1962 working for Dr. Ralph Ruggles for three years. Wanting to own or co-own his own practice, he joined the practice of Dr. Leland Holt in Granite City, Illinois. After six years there, he returned to the Quad Cities area and began a 35-year partnership with Dr. Richard Coster at Rock Island Animal Hospital in 1971.

After 47 years as a veterinarian, Larry retired in 2010. He sold the practice, which is still in existence today. During his career, he was instrumental in getting the Animal Emergency Center in Bettendorf, Iowa, in operation. It was financed by 50 area veterinarians and was a blessing to those who had been on call during many holidays and special events.

Larry was a skilled and accomplished woodworker, dedicated and honored Rotarian, and adventurous outdoorsman. Larry joined Rotary International in 1969 in Granite City and was a member of the Rock Island Rotary Club from 1971 through his death.6 He served the club and the district in numerous capacities, including president and as a 15-year member and three-year chair of the Rotary Group Study Exchange Committee. He also almost single-handedly started the Milan Rotary Club. He was a Paul Harris Fellow. The Paul Harris Fellow program recognizes individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.7 He also provided the funds for nine members of his family to become Paul Harris Fellows.

Larry maintained a perfect Rotary attendance record for nearly 40 years, attending meetings of out-of-town chapters while entertaining his passion for travel and outdoor adventures. Family vacations took the Tadlocks and their four children to campgrounds on the Buffalo River in Arkansas, Yellowstone, and Lake Rathbun. A treasured memory was a three-week camping adventure with Joan on the Oregon Coast. Larry’s last activity with the Rock Island Rotary Club was to participate in the Labor Day parade in 2021 where he was honored for his 52 years as a Rotarian.

Larry’s passion for backpacking led him to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, Glacier National Park and various parts of the Colorado Rockies. He later led 29 canoeing trips to the Boundary Waters of Canada, perfecting the art of packing as the unofficial dean of the Tadlock School of Packing. Larry’s favorite Boundary Waters adventures included his brothers, his and their children, and his grandson.

On those trips, whether with family or friends, I seem to feel closer to our Creator than anywhere else.” ~ Larry Tadlock

After his first 28 trips to the Boundary Waters, Larry thought it might be his last. But his grandson, Dillon Behr, who had always wanted to go on one of the trips, was finally able to arrange it. Dillon had also served in the Army, as a Special Forces (Green Beret) sergeant first class, and received the Purple Heart and Silver Star. Dillon had been injured in Shok Valley, Nuristan, Afghanistan in 2008 and, after a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, was ready to make the trip. It was a special trip indeed and one they both cherished.

Larry Owen Tadlock, a plain-spoken but caring healer of Quad Cities pets for almost five decades, died October 5, 2022, at Friendship Manor in Rock Island. He was 89. He is remembered by his family and community as a kind, caring, and compassionate man.


1 Reflections – My Life, by Larry Owen Tadlock

2 17 Sep 1953, Page 1 – Moravia Union at

3 06 Sep 1956, Page 1 – Moravia Union at

4 20 Sep 1956, Page 6 – Moravia Union at

5 27 Sep 1956, Page 1 – Moravia Union at

6 Obituary for Dr. Larry Owen Tadlock | Wheelan-Pressly Family of Funeral Homes ( written by Craig and Sherri DeVrieze

7 Paul Harris Society | Rotary International