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Larry Harsha was working on the rafters of his Dorset home last summer. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Harsha left a legacy of creativity in unfinished house outside of Dorset

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Larry Harsha would have taken special delight in the fact that his obituary photo featured him wearing a shirt that read, "In dog years I'm dead."

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He was unapologetically politically incorrect. Articulate, sometimes profane, witty and gruff, he was above all creative.

He envisioned things others never even dream of.

And it's tragic he never got to finish his last creation, a spectacularly interesting home outside of Dorset that he said was the shape of a brush saw blade.

It featured curved walls, curved ceilings, a curved roof.

Harsha, 61, died in January while the home was still under construction.

"Pink Floyd," the epic 1960s rock band's music, poured forth from the funeral home speakers.

The deceased guest of honor had left Pastor Gary Walpole strict instructions to end the ceremony early and get on with the celebration of life. Walpole obliged.

Larry Harsha was a hale and hearty man when he was interviewed early last fall for the Home and Garden special on his unique home.

But ominous signs were there, like the bruises that wouldn't heal and the jaundice that set in by September 2009.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2009. He died Jan. 30.

"He had such an active imagination," his widow Judy said. "He was a good guy."

So today, when the spring Home & Garden supplement goes out, Larry Harsha's unfinished vision brings remembrances of the not-too-distant past.

Harsha's eclectic interests included woodworking, music, photography, hunting and cooking. He was a computer whiz, uploading his photos and sharing them with friends and family.

He read newspapers line by line and wasn't shy about voicing his opinions.

"He had that, too," laughed Judy.

His son Jake gave a moving tribute to the father he "should have listened to but wouldn't," laced with humorous anecdotes about life with a colorful man who tended to pontificate to his kids after he'd had a beer or two.

"He never complained about anything," Judy said when the diagnosis came in. "He faced it. 'This is it, this is what's going to happen,' she recalls her husband saying .

"He checked on chemo and never did it," Judy said. "He questioned whether it would buy him time or make him feel any better, that kind of stuff." In the end, he decided to forego chemotherapy.

The cancer spread aggressively.

"It just came on all of a sudden," Judy said. "One week he was working on our house climbing around on scaffolding and the next week he was in a chair" gravely ill.

"He didn't even realize it," Judy said. "The week before that was the last Vikings game and we had a little party with our kids ands he thought he'd partied just a little too hard.

"He just intended to heal up whatever hurt and he was just going back to work on the house."

Before he passed away, he was putting Venetian plaster on the couple's Moran Lake home, a technique that uses a putty knife, sanding, buffing and some wet patting to get the plaster just right.

"It's beautiful," Judy said.

April 10, Judy put the unfinished home on the market. She couldn't afford to finish it, she said.

She hopes the new owner will appreciate its uniqueness and the loving touches Larry gave the home that he didn't get to see through to the end. He left behind a detailed set of blueprints he drafted.

But Larry may be guiding the finishing touches from the afterlife. He wasn't one to sit silent on the sidelines and let others do the work.

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