Friends and family members of John Larimer remember him as a smart, witty, driven individual destined to make a difference.
"He had a phenomenal memory and broad understanding of everything he studied," said Scott Larimer, John's father. "I can only imagine what he could've accomplished."
Larimer, a 2008 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate, was working in Aurora, Colo., as a cryptologist with the U.S. Navy when he and 11 other people were killed July 20 in a mass shooting at a movie theater.
After learning of the tragic death of an alumnus, students in the UW-Whitewater chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, joined with faculty, family members and friends to create a scholarship to honor Larimer's memory.
"John's love of history and politics deepened at UW-Whitewater, where his professors helped him perfect his research and writing skills. We want to help students who share John's enthusiasm for and devotion to the study of history," Scott Larimer said.
"He was so intellectually strong," said Tony Gulig, associate professor of history. "When all the other students would leave for the day, John was always ready to debate the issues we talked about in class. He had a keen interest in working with historical documents - probably why the military was so interested in him."
After graduation, Larimer, who grew up in Crystal Lake, Ill., enlisted in the Navy, the fourth generation in his family to serve. As a cryptologist, he analyzed top-secret information for the U.S. government.
"History is a living discipline," Gulig said. "John is an example of the important role historians play. It's not just about knowing where we've been, but using that knowledge to see where we might go. This scholarship will support students much like John."
Funds are needed to ensure the scholarship becomes an annual award for UW-Whitewater students. Donations to the John T. Larimer Scholarship can be made by sending checks to UW-Whitewater Foundation, 800 W. Main St., Whitewater, WI 53190 or by contributing online at http://www.uww.edu/foundation/give/form.html (select new gift/other/John T. Larimer Scholarship). For more information, contact Kristen Mekemson at 262-472-1622.
John Larimer's interest in history was nurtured at an early age, as shown by this photo taken near Abraham Lincoln's tomb in Springfield, Ill., in 1991. John is rubbing Lincoln's nose. His brother Noel, sisters Beth and Nora, and a family friend are also in the photo.