Larry Wefring '61

Larry Wefring '61
Nicole Sheldon

“I have a dream for people with disabilities. So many people with disabilities say, ‘I can’t do anything; I’m disabled.’ I refuse to take that position. I was bound and determined that I was going to have a normal life, as much as I could in spite of having epilepsy. That was my dream. And it all turned out-- the dream came true.”

A Dream for People with Disabilities

Larry had a temperature of 105 as a 9-month old child, and is thought to have had meningitis or encephalitis, which leaves scar tissue and a predisposition to epilepsy.  He began to have seizures through childhood and adolescence. Larry attended a public elementary school and experienced a lot of bullying. By the time he got through 9th grade, the bullying was so bad and so hurtful that he decided he wanted to quit school. He told his parents, “I’m going to be a 9th grade dropout from school.” But his parents, and Norwegian grandparents, wouldn’t have it, as he was their first born and first grandson, so they offered to send him to Minnehaha Academy if he would go. He agreed. MA was a different world from the public school. He still had some challenges, but he made some friends and stayed in school.

After graduating from MA, Larry had to decide what to do with his life. There were not many opportunities for people with epilepsy, and he rejected all the negative options.  “I chose to live my life with gusto, whatever the cost.” Larry was told he was ‘too stupid’ to go to college but he didn’t listen and graduated from Mankato State with a degree in Educational Psychology. He started work at KSTP radio in 1972 and spent his entire career of 34 years doing special projects for Stanley Hubbard, the owner. “Stanley took me under his wing and taught me how to do the right thing. He often said to me, ‘Larry, I have your best interest at heart.’” 

Brain Surgery Brought Radical Changes

Larry decided to have brain surgery in September of 1987, at age 44, as brain surgery was the only way to mature and to stop the side effects of Phenobarbital. He researched the best place to have the surgery, and settled on McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a doctor who was doing trial studies on removing different parts of the brain. This surgery left the part of his brain intact that affected short term memory—and it worked! It also enabled him to quit taking older epilepsy drugs that had terrible side effects. One of these drugs was Phenobarbital, which Larry started at age 7. It slowed the activity of his brain and nervous system, stopped his emotional growth, and had terrible side effects. When he quit at age 44, he was significantly developmentally delayed, both emotionally and socially. Larry has been using the years since to “catch up and mature.” After surgery, he was in the hospital for six weeks and had a lot of time to think. It was there that gave his life to Jesus Christ. “I have never looked back. My life has been guided for more than 32 years by the Holy Spirit.”   

After his surgery, Larry was radically different, and people would ask, “What happened to you?” He pondered the question, “What kind of person do I want to become?” He remembered when he was 10 years old, kids from the neighborhood would come over and ask him to play. “I wanted to go back to that 10-year old kid that other kids wanted to play with, who had lots of friends and loved to laugh and horse around and be silly. The person you see today is the person that is like what I would have been all along if epilepsy had not intervened.” 

Today, Larry enjoys getting together with the guys from the Class of ‘61, who informally gather a few times a year, usually for breakfast. Larry hopes that if a student was being bullied at the school, that another student would do something about it, and that the school would not tolerate it. His story is from “way back when those checks and balances were not in place. I hope that something good comes from telling my story. Whatever I suffered is well worth it if it can help another person.”  

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