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Larry Olds
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10/13/2016 at 6:46:32 PM GMT
Posts: 1
Larry Olds

Dear friends of Larry,

Larry peacefully died this morning.   His caretaker Phyllis talked to him at about 5:30 a.m.  She had moved a mat into his room to be near in case he needed anything.  At 7:40 a.m. she discovered that he had died.  She said it had been a difficult night with an upset stomach.  She had been in contact with hospice throughout the night.

His sons are making arrangements to come to Minneapolis.

I spent the evening with him Wednesday night.  He ate the tomato soup I made without "sharp edges", he had ice cream.  Prior to that time he had ice cream and tapioca pudding.  After chatting some, it was evident that he was tired.  He dozed off at about 7:30 p.m. and each time he would wake up I'd check on him and he would smile and wave to me.  Phyllis tucked him in at about 9:30 p.m.

He had wonderful visits from friends and family and I asked him last night if he wanted to continue open door visits and he said yes.  I had read him the last journal entries, and he smiled. 

Plans are for a green burial cremation.  At some point there will be a memorial. 

Larry was a quite, but powerful force for adult learning and education for social justice, human rights and peace. He is under-appreciated in the academic community — in large part I think because he elected to publish little—keeping his head, hands and heart always “on the ground” in activism, with the people, rather than in ivory towers! For many many years he generated a news letter “Popular Education News” that featured stories and events “from the underbelly of the world’s forgotten and abused.” He had links to The Highlander Center, the Catalyst Centre ( - “a collective of educators committed to democratic, social justice education and community development. “). He was the quintessential “popular educator” and collected “definitions” of “popular education” which he published in his newsletter (more than two dozen! See: His champions included Paulo Freire, Julius Nyerere, Myles Horton, and many other radical adult educators. He was very close friends with Phyllis Cunningham, and John Gaventa. You and Andre mention him in your book on John Ohliger on page 237!
He was Founder of NAAPAE (The North American Alliance for Popular Adult Education (1994-2001); was North American representative to the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE); involved with popularizing the Danish Folk School movement here in the US; was an antiracist activist; and strong proponent of feminism in AE long before it became widely popular.

He was a personal friend, visited Jim and me in Atlanta, I visited him at his home in Minnesota. So so much more could be said of him…but I’ll leave that to others.

In an interview of him, March 2012, the following exchange occurred, Published in Popular Education News:

"What has allowed you to sustain your participation in popular education and social movements?
Once a vision is formed of the possibility of social justice and a peaceful world, I don't see any way to step back from working towards that end. By the late 1960s, I had spent nearly three years in Africa and made the overland journeys from Europe to Singapore and back, experiences that showed me dramatically the relationship between my relative wealth and poverty in the world. As I mentioned above I was working in teacher training at the University of Minnesota when I encountered Paulo Freire and shortly after that was introduced to critical theory by colleagues in the Radical Caucus of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum. These developments led to my turning away from a career in teacher education. Fortunately after a difficult year and a half of unemployment, I found my lifework as an adult educator at Metro Community College. During my 26 years at the college I was able to have the luxury of my teaching job being part of my work for social justice and peace. And during that time was able to connect to and be inspired by people I met with the International Council for Adult Education, The Participatory Research Group, The Highlander Center, and other organizations of adult educators for empowerment and social change. When I ended my job at the end of 1999 with enough so I didn't have to work for money in the new millennium, I was able to continue the work.
Why is popular education important for our times?
There is still much to do to make a better world. Those for whom education is either their primary work or is part of organizing and activism, can find in popular education things that will help - in the words of the mission of the Popular Education News: to improve the educational work against oppression and violence and for democracy, sustainability, justice, and peace. We can do better - and there are still roads to be built by our walking.
What niche did you fill in developing the Popular Education News?
When the North American Alliance for Popular and Adult Educationfinally gave up all but the ghost after the 2001 World Assembly of Adult Education in Jamaica, there was no longer any network to communicate about popular education gatherings and popular education materials. For more than 25 years I had been collecting materials for my personal library, materials that were not well known among organizers and activists, nor among adult educators for that matter. These materials, and having met many of the people producing them, had been an inspiration in my own work. Gathering the materials together for the use of organizers, activists, and community-based educators in my own community was something I could do. I both began to build the library of materials to add to the library at the Resource Center of the Americas and began The Popular Education News to let people know about old and new materials I thought might be helpful in popular education and community organizing work. And I did my best to find "Where Popular Educators Will Gather" and publicize that in the newsletter and on the web site.

It has been as the question suggests, a niche. But then one of my hopes for my life is to be a cog on the big wheel of social change. I am pleased that others are continuing. There is much still to be done. The work continues."

--Nikki LaSorella

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