Life is ironic. A brilliant man, who dedicated his life to improving the health of humans, was claimed by Alzheimers in the prime of his career.
Larry Whitesell grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Delaware College with a degree in animal husbandry. He married, Donna Keckler. Together, these opposites completed each other in a very complementary way. They had two daughters and now have two beautiful granddaughters.
In 1983, Larry uprooted his family and moved from Hershey Pennsylvania where he dedicated 15 years of his life doing cardiology research at the Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania. As a leader in his field, he was noticed by the University of Wisconsin’s head of cardiology and was offered a ground breaking position at UW Wisconsin where he started a program in Cardiology Research.
As Larry was blazing a trail utilizing gene therapy in cardiac research, he noticed some memory issues. In 2010, he retired early and was diagnosed with the early onset of Alzheimer’s. When Larry reached the stage where his family was unable to care for him, he came to Maplewood of Sauk Prairie to receive skilled care and physical therapy.
Maplewood has adopted the “Music in Memory” program where people with dementia and Alzheimer’s listen to favorite songs from the early adult years. This program has been known to provide joy and bring a person back to themselves while the music is being played. Those listening to music have experienced calming behaviors and may have the ability to respond in the present for a while after a listening session. Larry is one of the success stories associated with “Music in Memory”. As a result, he is experiencing more connections to his surrounding, making more eye and verbal contact.
Larry made a difference in many people’s life by doing cutting edge research. He has plans to continue contributing to society after he passes. He will be donating his brain for research in the hopes that scientists can pinpoint the gene that causes Alzheimer’s and a cure will be found.