RIP Larry Cannon

LARRY S. CANNON

MASTER MODEL RAILROADER

1947 – 2022

Larry Cannon, 74, passed away on Saturday, July 2, 2022, as the result of a fall at his home in Lewiston.  Larry was one of the founding members of the Great Falls Model Railroad Club in 1987.  He was club president from 1994 to 1996 and from 2007 to 2009.  As Past President, Larry joined the incoming President Stephen Martelli for the special ceremonies at the Dedication Celebration in September 2009 as we held our first Open House at Mill Street in New Auburn.

Larry and his wife, Ruth, moved from Vermont to North Auburn in 1983.  They later renovated a newer house in Lewiston, becoming neighbors to Tom and Carmen Coulombe who lived on the same road.  His personal layout always featured Vermont rail lines and locations.  When Larry lived in North Auburn, he had an impressive garden railroad and an extensive HO layout in his barn. He often invited modelers to run the layout.  Our adult education classes sometimes met at his house to build modules in the basement.  Several of our Raffle Layouts were also built there.  In Larry’s own words, “We learned some valuable lessons building club corners in my barn in North Auburn, among which were:  You can melt foam with a blow torch to create scenery, but you can’t always get dependable results.  Badminton rackets are the ultimate, but messy defense against June bugs.”  Larry’s son Dan commented that he personally “preferred a tennis racket for swatting June bugs.”

Larry became a Federal Bank Examiner for the FDIC in 1969 and was Controller at Bates College from 1985 until 1998.  He continued to do consulting work for commercial banks during his retirement years.  Larry used this experience and expertise to help the railroad club in many ways.  He was instrumental in setting up a financial plan for the club that ultimately resulted in our owning the building we currently occupy on Mill Street in Auburn. 

One of his most important contributions was helping to get the GFMRRC approved as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so that donations to our club are tax deductible.  Larry and Terry King spent several months with paper work and trips to Augusta to obtain final approval.  This designation has significantly helped the club obtain additional donations of cash and model railroad items.

With his mind for numbers and values of model railroad equipment, Larry provided valuable information in determining the prices on model railroad supplies for sale at train shows.  At our train shows and those sponsored by many other clubs, you would find him negotiating with buyers to sell excess inventory items.  In recent years, he also helped the club by acquiring layouts and determining their value.  Taking an inventory of donated supplies is a major task, and separating useful donations from those that are no longer serviceable is time-consuming, but Larry did it well.

With Larry’s inspiration and supervision, fundraising started with the first club cars, 40’ Athearn boxcars, which members decaled and sold at train shows, to club members and to anyone interested.  These still show up occasionally at train shows and in donations to the club.  Another of our early fundraising efforts began when a Bates College faculty member gave Larry a 4’x8′ HO layout on a sheet of 3/4″ plywood.  Larry and Frank Barron cleaned up the layout and bought a new Athearn locomotive. Club members sold raffle tickets on the layout.  As Larry explained in an article about our early financial history, “That first raffle layout taught us that 4’x8′ was too big to haul around and the plywood was too heavy.  The present design evolved from the fact you could get three 4’x64″ layouts from two sheets of homasote.”  Future raffle layouts were carried to various shows and became a major fundraising effort for over 20 years.

After meeting at Edward Little High School in Auburn for many years with no permanent layouts, the GFMRRC was able to set aside enough money to rent a facility on Canal Street Alley in Lewiston.  Larry and Ray Anderson designed and installed most of the electrical work for the HO layout.   They also wrote the manual for the layout, including Excel spreadsheets of all the electrical layout control and lighting systems.  At our present location on Mill Street, Larry and Tom Jones were heavily involved in planning and construction of the HO layout.

Many members enjoyed running the HO layout at Larry’s home in Lewiston, which had 1,200 feet of track and 193 turnouts and covered about 75% of his basement.  His railroad lines went from Whitefield, NH, to Rouses Point, NY, with various locations in between.  Larry brought several structures from his layout to serve as demonstrations at our club meetings.  Larry built with a purpose.  If he needed a railroad-related facility, he researched by reading and by traveling to a location which had a facility similar to the one he wanted to model.  He took pictures so that his model would be authentic.

Larry’s sense of humor inspired many unique railroad cars, including a limo-style stretch caboose, a beer can tank car, and a giraffe’s head poking through a modified dome car.  A Pine Tree Lines caboose featured a picnic table platform.  His Mosquito Dispersal unit, with which the State of Maine could spread mosquitoes throughout the state was so much fun to explain that one of the guards at the Maine State Museum asked us to stop confusing people who thought the concept was real.

As club members, we were particularly proud of Larry for his accomplishments at the national level of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA).  He achieved the distinction of being one of the few modelers to receive a Master Modeler Railroad Certificate from NMRA, becoming #284.  The certificate required the completion of seven out of eleven specific projects, including writing and publishing an article in a major model railroad publication.  By 1999 Larry had completed all eleven of the projects.  At that time he was only the fifth person to have ever done all 11 achievements.  He also encouraged GFMRRC members to become Master Modelers by helping them achieve the first of the steps involved.

Larry was a truly outstanding model railroader, and we will all miss his varied contributions and ideas about improving the club.   

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