Lawrence J. (Larry) Hembree
Advocate for Social Justice Dies at 81
Surrounded by the love of God, Lawrence J. (Larry) Hembree died November 29, 2020 from COVID-19. He was a voice for the poor, the homeless, the imprisoned and individuals suffering from addiction. He headed several social service agencies in Indpls. He devoted countless hours of hard work to many worthwhile charities, organizations and community groups. He created the first Youth Service Bureau, and the first Work Release program in Marion County. He wrote the charter beginning Big Sisters in Central IN, he assisted with the Outdoor Education Program, the Child Welfare League, and the Community Service Council to name a few. Larry served as the executive director of Public Action in Correctional Effort, PACE, for twenty years. He lobbied against the death penalty with a focus on juvenile executions, testifying in the death penalty phase in a number of trials. He also lobbied for better health care in Indiana prisons. Recognizing his dedicated work throughout Indiana Larry was presented the prestigious “Distinguished Hoosier Award” by then Governor Evan Bayh. One of the highest awards that can be given by the State of Indiana to one of its citizens.
Larry graduated in the first class of Scecina Memorial High School, in 1957, Indpls. IN. Following high school, he entered St. Meinrad Seminary, St. Meinrad IN, where earned a Bachelor of Science in Theology. Over the years Larry participated in the St. Meinrad Archabbey Oblate program in his ongoing commitment to serve God. He earned his Master’s Degree in Social Work from Indiana University and he served in the Indiana Army Reserve for four years. He assisted his long-time friend and colleague Father Larry Crawford when St. Simon Church and School moved from the east side of Indpls. to the Geist area. Further, Larry worked toward a Ph.D. in Theology at St. Mary of the Woods, Terre Haute, IN.
During his career Larry spent his evenings teaching Criminal Justice, and Juvenile Justice at IUPUI, he held tenure at the University of Indpls. and, he taught psychology for Vincennes University.
Larry was a faithful servant, dedicating his life work to God. He loved his family and valued the role he played in his grandson’s lives, their love and laughter filled his heart. He enjoyed celebrating the holidays, especially Christmas! He was an avid reader, and his hobbies included playing golf and traveling. He valued his companion dog of 12 years Lucy. Larry loved life, he accepted life’s challenges, and was grateful for his blessings.
Preceding Larry in death were his parents and step-father, infant daughter, Catherine J. Hembree, and his brother, Thomas Hembree.
His survivors include his wife of 55 years, Barbara Sinclair Hembree and four children: Sons, Lawrence J Hembree Jr. (Brenda) Kentucky, John J Hembree (Sarah) Alabama, and daughters, Lisa J. Hembree-Keeton-Jordan (Brock) Fishers and Lori J Hembree, Greenfield, IN. Five grandsons, Joshua Hembree, Beech Grove, IN, Adam Keeton (partner Tayler Horton, & her daughter Harlee Green) Indpls. IN., T. Ryan Keeton (Lindsay) New Palestine, IN., Zacharias Keeton (Caity) New Palestine IN and, Second Lieutenant, Seth Keeton, Ft, Benning Georgia. A 4th generation brought 3 great-grandsons, Beckam & Owen Keeton and Tucker Keeton. Brother and sister in law, Dr. Michael & Judy Deery, Culver, IN., sister in law, Sally Hembree, Greenfield, IN and many wonderful nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Larry’s name to the St. Michael Catholic Church Building Fund, 519 Jefferson Blvd, Greenfield, IN, where he served as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister, taking communion to the homebound, nursing homes and Hancock Regional Hospital.
The Rite of Christian Burial will be officiated by the Rev. Father Aaron Jenkins. Due to COVID-19 it will be a private service in the chapel at Calvary Cemetery with burial following at Holy Cross Cemetery. In Larry’s memory a Mass will also be celebrated at his beloved St. Meinrad, by Father Meateo Zamora, on December 4, 2020. A celebration of life gathering for family and friends will be held at a future date. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Stillinger Family Funeral Home, Greenfield, IN.
The family of Larry Hembree sincerely thank the staff/caregivers at Golden Living Brandywine Nursing Home, Greenfield, IN, for their dedication and care of Larry and asks for prayers for these good people especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Gratitude is extended to his St. Michael parish family for their many prayers and acts of kindness.
If you would like to share your memories of Larry and condolences with his family, please do so at www.stillingerfamily.com .