Anyone who had the privilege to know Larry Cullen before he passed away earlier this month following a bout with cancer would agree that once he put his mind to something he really cared about, he would go above and beyond the call of duty.
“Every sport he became interested in, he had to go all out,” said Larry’s wife, Milly. “He loved sailing from the beginning; it became his passion.” Larry started sailing in the early 1970’s as crew on a Lightning at the Centerport Yacht Club (NY).
Soon he bought his own boat because he knew sailing would play a large role in his life. He joined Southold Yacht Club (NY) where he later served as Commodore. Larry was willing to help anyone else with the sport that shared the same enthusiasm for sailing. His three kids – Kathy, Patty and Bob credit him with years of guidance, teaching and support. Larry believed that it was easy to learn to sail with proper instruction, so he became a US SAILING certified sailing instructor.
Alex Kraebel, a former student of Larry’s and a sophomore for the University of Southern California varsity sailing team said, “Larry Cullen instilled in me a true passion for the sport that far surpasses anything that can by instructed in a classroom.” Larry got involved in race management as well, and was a certified US SAILING and Canadian Race Officer. He volunteered his time and his boat to local youth sailing programs and loved every minute of it. He organized and scored races by himself, with his own boat and marks. From fall through the winter seasons, Larry would drive 50 miles from Southold, NY to Oakdale, NY and sit in a 15 foot Jonboat in freezing temperatures to run races for the JY15 Frostbite Fleet 38. He never took a cent for gas. Fleet Captain, Jim Ryan said, “I often called Larry a tough old coot and he knew I meant it as a compliment.”
Larry was always open about offering his opinion to sailors about their technique. He would always come into the local restaurant after racing, order one martini, a plate of calamari, and talk with everyone about their sailing. Frostbite fleet member, Jimi Grover said: “Larry Cullen was one of the most inspirational people to ever touch my life. He always pushed me to do my best, and I know he did this for dozens of others as well.”