The creation of the Larry Vonder Haar Service Leadership award in the John Cook School of Business fully embodies the person who this man strived to be every single day of his life.
"Larry was the most genuinely good person I've ever known. I miss him very much," said Paula Fulks, Vonder Haar's wife of 30 years. "I'd never heard him say anything bad about anyone. He was dedicated to making sure whoever you were and however he touched your life that he was able to make it better in some way."
Family and friends gathered Tuesday evening in the College Church chapel for the daily 5 p.m. mass, which was dedicated to Vonder Haar, 56, who passed away suddenly on June 14, 2010, in their Arlington, Texas, home.
The Larry Vonder Haar Service Leadership award will honor a business school student, who best embodies a commitment to justice and humane values, ethical decision-making and effective action for the common good.
|Larry Vonder Haar|
The Cook School established the award named for Vonder Haar in recognition of a testamentary gift to the school's Service Leadership Center. Through the center, students earn a Service Leadership certificate, which provides them an opportunity to develop and hone their leadership skills while serving the St. Louis community.
"This program is very fitting of my father's memory because it is a perfect fit for the type of person my father was," said Jessica LaBozzetta, Vonder Haar's daughter, who graduated from SLU in 2006.
"My father was such a strong believer in being a part of your community through volunteering and committing your time rather than just living in it. He actually lived the ideals of this service leadership certificate program."
Throughout his life, Vonder Haar was involved with various organizations including providing management consulting for United Way in St. Louis and serving on various parish finance and strategic planning committees. He had been a dedicated parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul, his church in Texas for nearly 11 years.
Vonder Haar first graduated from Saint Louis University in 1974 with both a business and an accounting degree. Years later, Vonder Haar returned to SLU and received his MBA.
"He was so proud of being a Billiken," Fulks said. "SLU has always remained a part of our lives through the years."
LaBozzetta agreed. "My dad just loved SLU so much," she said. "He insisted I go on a campus tour since it was his alma mater and I fell in love with it. He was so excited that I could have the opportunity to have an incredible experience here much like he did."
Vonder Haar is also survived by his son, James, who will start his first year of law school this fall at University of Texas in Arlington; his son-in-law, Michael LaBozzetta, a JD/MBA student at SLU; his mother, Dolores Schwer Vonder Haar, who lives in Oakville, Mo.; and three siblings, Steve Vonder Haar, Linda Kile and Susan Vonder Haar.
For more information about University Advancement, visit giving.slu.edu.