Lawrence F. “Larry” Menard, 74, a board member of Menards Inc., died Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Azura Memory Care in Eau Claire, surrounded by family and friends.
Lawrence Francis Menard was born March 20, 1944 in Eau Claire to John and Rosemary (Korger) Menard. Larry came into the world six weeks early, and was said to be so small when he went home that he could fit into a shoebox.
He grew up on his parents’ Town of Wheaton farm, but soon discovered a passion for cars and the “need for speed.” At age 12, he convinced a beloved uncle to help him sell his 4-H heifer so that he could buy a 1935 slant-back Ford, his first car. He biked 12 miles to pick it up, all unknown to his parents. Over the years he became active in several car clubs including the Chippewa Valley Corvette Club, the Chippewa Valley Model A Club, and the Indianhead Old Car Club. He also helped organize the car show benefiting St. James the Greater School and volunteered with programs aimed at helping young drivers.
He was graduated from Regis High School in 1962, and served in the Wisconsin National Guard Reserve from 1965 to 1971 during times of great floods on the Mississippi River and civil protests in Madison.
In 1962, he joined his brother, John, at Menards, working first on pole building crews, and then as a top salesman. He once noted that he probably knew every farm in western Wisconsin from his sales calls over the years. His skill and passion for sales led him to become the general sales manager for Menards Pole Building Division in 1971. A few years later, he became the Fridley (Minn.) Menards Yard Manager. “Friendly Fridley” was highly successful under Larry’s leadership, in which he oversaw a growth spurt for the company as the Twin Cities Menards District Manager.
Larry created a hard-working culture in the Twin Cities market before returning to Eau Claire in 1989 as the Menards Operations Manager, supervising stores throughout the Midwest. Larry was a fearless leader who held this position for the next 20 years, traveling to stores, training team members, hosting sales seminars and attending countless grand openings. After he retired in 2008, Larry, known as the company historian, carried the flag for Menards as he attended seminars and board meetings, and made special appearances, including the Minnesota State Fair.
Larry is survived by his wife, Dawn, whom he married in 2000; son, Lawrence, Eau Claire, and daughter, Angela (Chris) Fahey, Andover, Minn.; step-daughter, Stacy (Barry) Swenson, Cadott, and step-son, Jeff (Katie) Mousel, Elk Mound; siblings, John (Fay), David (Bonnie), and Suzanne, of Eau Claire; Mark (Laurel) of Enumclaw, Wash.; Rosemary (David) Menard-Wallace, Show-Lo, Ariz. and Maggie (Tom) Menard-Mueller, Oak Creek; 11 grandchildren, and many beloved nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Jeanne (Sam) Krause.
Funeral service will take place at 11 am on Monday, March 18, 2019 at St. James the Greater Catholic Church, 2502 11th St., Eau Claire, WI 54703 with Father Tom Krieg officiating. Visitation will take place at the church on Sunday, March 17, 2019 from 4-8 pm and again on Monday, March 18, 2019 from 9:30 am until the time of service. Private family committal service with military honors rendered by American Legion Post #53 will take place in the McCombs Cemetery in the Town of Wheaton immediately following the mass.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in Larry’s name to Greater Wisconsin Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, 3313 S. Packerland Drive, De Pere, WI, 54115 or St. James the Greater Catholic Church.
Friends and family may offer condolences online at www.hulkefamilyfh.com.
Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 3209 Rudolph Road, Eau Claire, WI 54701 is assisting the family with the arrangements.