In memory of J.R. LaRue, an extraordinary man
Sept. 7, 1940, Metropolis, Illinois – Dec. 14, 2017, Kalispell, Montana
Joseph “J.R.” LaRue was born in Metropolis, IL to a poor family who lived and worked on an 80 acre hill farm known as “Pea Ridge” near the settlement of Temple Hill near the Ozark Mountains. As a young boy of age 10 his first paying job was in a grocery store stocking shelves. He worked hard and learned many skills during his youth and this work ethic continued throughout his life. Nothing was ever wasted at home and all of the LaRue family, which included an older brother and three sisters, worked together to provide the food on the table. One of his fondest memories was being treated to hot cracklin’ corn bread and fresh homemade butter. His family instilled in him the values by which he lived for the rest of his life. J.R. loved attending family reunions and spending time with his kin throughout his adult life. He was a humble man, kind and courteous, generous, thoughtful and loyal, sometimes to a fault. It has been said that no one ever took his name in vain or told an unkind word about him. J.R. exhibited qualities that endeared him to just about everyone.
J.R. was given his first firearm, a Remington Model 514, by his brother Charlie when he was 10 years old. That rifle, kept for all these years and part of his small collection, will be given to the only grandson of his brother at J.R.’s burial services in May near where he grew up. The first shotgun he ever bought was an L.C. Smith Ideal Grade which has been passed on to his son, Bill. This was the start of an interest in firearms which spanned over 65 years. If anything, J.R.’s firearms collection was eclectic. His Winchester collection was sold many years ago and what was left was added to when he wanted a new bird hunting or varmint rifle or something he liked and just had to have. His interests in collecting ranged from clocks, pocket watches, collectible ammunition and knives, some of which will be offered at auction at a later date.
As a youth of his generation J.R. found an escape in cowboy movies and developed an interest in the lifestyle of the Old West. Of course living the life of a cowboy became one of his early pursuits but discovered that it was not as enchanting a life as he thought. He joined the U.S. Air Force at age 17 and served this country he loved so well for 22 years, retiring as a Master Sergeant. J.R. served during the Vietnam War and nearly lost his life during a rescue operation. Episodes and entire chapters of his life which were very important and very character defining were never to be disclosed under penalty of law. Most of those things were concealed from his first wife, Linda, and the rest of his family. He was under a fifty-year moratorium not to disclose those activities, beginning in 1976, the year he left the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. During his career with the OSI he not only served as a plainclothes special investigator but was also a Turkish Linguist. He held the Turkish people in high esteem and they always had a special place in his heart. J.R. and I, along with J.R’s son Bill and favorite daughter-in-law Leanne visited Turkey in the year 2000 and enjoyed the people, the country and the history as told by J.R. He met with a few of his old friends and military contacts while visiting and they were incredibly happy to see him once again.
J.R. was the Chief Firearms Consultant, advisor & catalogue writer at the James D. Julia Auction Company in Fairfield, ME for many years. J.R.and I also owned Carter Mountain Consulting Agency in Tennessee providing appraisals for the firearms community across the country. Prior to that he was the owner and proprietor of LaRue’s Firearms in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. While operating that business he would attend many weekend gun shows across the country andwas well known at many of the fine eating establishments he frequented on every trip. If he found a place he liked, he returned there time and time again because he just loved good food.
J.R. belonged to many clubs and organizations during his lifetime where he met many of his lifelong friends who will miss his knowledge, honesty, integrity and sincere friendship. He was a Benefactor member of the NRA, Charter Member NRA 2nd Amendment Task Force, Member NRA Eagles, Life Member of Ohio Gun Collectors, Carolina Gun Collectors, Wyoming Weapons Collector’s Assoc., Collectors Arms Dealers Assoc., & Major Waldron Sportsman’s Assoc., Charter Member Winchester Arms Collectors Assoc. and Member of and Consultant to the Cody Firearms Museum. He enjoyed bird hunting in South Dakota, Georgia and Argentina with Jim Julia and all the guys and turkey and varmint shooting in Texas and Montana with his friend of nearly 60 years, Jim Rankin.
There will be a celebration of his life at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta, Maine on Tuesday, March 20th from 6-8:30pm. If you plan to attend please RSVP to Julia’s Auction House at 207-453-7125 and ask for Nancy. Burial ceremonies including a military honor guard will be held at the Temple Hill Cemetery in Golconda, IL on May 26th at 11am. Donations in his memory can be made to the Cody Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming, where he lived for several years enjoying the great outdoors as an avid hunter. Condolences may be sent to Diana LaRue, P.O. Box 70408, Knoxville, TN 37938.
J.R. lived a life filled with action and adventure, life and death situations, challenges and accomplishments, meeting new people and enjoying and sharing the love of all of his family. He will be missed by the entire firearms community and by everyone whose lives he touched. – Diana LaRue
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