Obituary: A Tribute To Larry Boven

Kalamazoo, Mich., grower Larry Boven, who died in a helicopter crash on Friday, will be remembered as an entrepreneur, innovator and adventurer who had a zest for life.

Boven, 68, was very experienced flying helicopters and small airplanes the last 40 years. Last Thursday, he purchased a used helicopter in Minnesota and flew it to Michigan. Something wasn’t quite right with it and he was test driving it again with an instructor on Friday in a nature preserve near his farm property, his daughter, Laurie Boven Pomeroy, said on Monday. He went up once with the instructor, then again without the instructor when the engine stopped and the helicopter crashed. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

“It was just a shock, totally unexpected,” Laurie said. “We always knew he’d go this way but we didn’t think it would be now. He just bought a couple of ultralight planes, too. At least he was up having fun and doing what he liked to do when this happened.”

Larry is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughters, Laurie, Pamela and Christine; nine grandchildren; sisters Nancy Wenke and Beth Triesenberg; and mother, Effie Boven. On Monday, Laurie was expecting between 800 and 1,000 people to attend the funeral service today at Haven Church and the calling hours yesterday at Langeland Funeral Home. “Friends are flying in from all over,” she said. “He never met anyone who didn’t become a friend. He just liked everybody.”

Last summer, Larry sold Boven’s Quality Plants to two enterprising young growers. The 14-acre Van Boven’s greenhouse facility was sold to grower employee Nirmal Shah, who grew up in India and came to this country to pursue a career in horticulture at Penn State University. The original seven-acre Boven’s facility was purchased by another grower employee, Kris van de Streek and his wife, Stacy.

Not one to ever retire, Larry was pursuing a variety of business interests, including a horse barn with his daughter Pam, an idea for an online auction business and he just purchased a downtown office building. “He loved getting involved in all sorts of things,” Laurie said. “He was not one to stop doing things. It kept him vibrant and alive.”

Boven’s Lasting Legacy

Among the Kalamazoo growers, Larry was a real trailblazer and often the first to embrace new technology and methods. He was the first to install a monorail system and conveyor belts in his greenhouses, the first to use flat-filling equipment and the first to install flood floors and build gutter-connected greenhouses in Kalamazoo. It wasn’t unusual for fellow growers to spend a quiet Saturday afternoon at Boven’s checking out the latest equipment and strategies.

“Larry should be remembered as an innovator who was very important to many people,” said Kris van de Streek. “He was never one to back down from a challenge and would always try to find a better way to do things. Whether that meant doing trials of his own or visiting other greenhouses and talking with others, he was dedicated to growing the highest quality plants as efficiently as possible.”

Dean Cramer of B&C Greenhouse near Boven’s was a customer and long-time business associate and friend. He says Larry was an industry leader, man of integrity and a family man who loved his children and grandchildren. “All the years I’ve known him, he was always one to try new things and go to the next level,” he said. “He was always doing something new, something better. He was independent, but his ideas were right on most of the time. He did a good job with everything he did.”

Dennis and Lorence Wenke of Wenke Greenhouses grew up with Larry and Lorence married Larry’s sister, Nancy. Both of their fathers were celery farmers and neighbors. “I’ve known Larry since he was 16 and got his first white corvette,” Dennis said. “He liked things that would go fast and look good. He used to have a bumper sticker that said ‘the man with the most toys wins.’ He came very close.”

Lorence and Larry built Sunbelt Greenhouses in Georgia together and then Lorence bought him out. Larry also helped build Crossroads Greenhouse in Indiana, which is heated by methane gas from a landfill. “We also bought a boat together and traveled around Lake Michigan,” Lorence said. “I never would have done that without him.”

He recalls a time he flew down to Georgia with Larry in a small rented plane with a pilot. “Ice was building up on the wings in Kentucky and we were losing altitude, but when we came down, the ice melted off,” Lorence recalls. “It was pretty scary and the pilot’s hands were shaking.”

The Wenkes note this recent crash wasn’t Larry’s first brush with an aircraft accident. About 20 years ago, he went on a hunting trip with other growers and Dave Smith of Pine View Greenhouses drowned when the plane crashed into a body of water. Larry and the pilot survived. “People who love to fly keep doing it until they can’t fly anymore,” Lorence says.

Long-time business associate and friend Lisa Oliver shares her memories and warm sentiments for Larry Boven. They worked together for years while she was the plant buyer for the Franks nursery and craft chain and often attended the California Pack Trials together. Read more here.

Greenhouse Grower Editor Delilah Onofrey shares her memories of Larry Boven.
Read more here.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Obituary: A Tribute To Larry Boven

  1. I shall be forever greatful to the Boven Family and Mr Larry Boven because in the year 2000 I was just releashed from prison and nobody wanted to give me a second chance well Larry did and told me “everybody makes mistakes in life its what you do the the second chance that matters”.Thank You so very much God has a spiecal seat in Heavan waiting for you.

  2. I shall be forever greatful to the Boven Family and Mr Larry Boven because in the year 2000 I was just releashed from prison and nobody wanted to give me a second chance well Larry did and told me “everybody makes mistakes in life its what you do the the second chance that matters”.Thank You so very much God has a spiecal seat in Heavan waiting for you.

Latest Stories
Cannabis Structure

August 23, 2016

5 Factors To Consider In Your Cannabis Structure

Along with the size and specs of your greenhouse, it's also important to focus on ventilation, light deprivation, benching, irrigation, and odor control.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Kick Spring Sales Up A Notch With 18 New Plant Introduc…

It’s time to look forward to the spring season and what plants will get your business off to the right start. These 18 new cultivars have all the traits of good breeding — uniform habits, bold colors, showy blooms, good vigor, and excellent branching.

Read More
Bees And Pesticides

August 23, 2016

Studies Offer Conflicting Views On Neonic Effect On Bee…

How much exposure to neonicotinoids do bees need before their health becomes affected? That’s the question two research teams look to answer.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Gardens Alive! Parent Company Buys Zelenka Farms

  Zelenka Farms, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, says LM Farms, which owns Gardens Alive!, has purchased the company and all of its assets. BFN Operations LLC and its affiliated entities, d/b/a Zelenka Farms, operated one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the U.S. Its products include shrubs, trees, perennials, roses, and groundcovers. The owners of Gardens Alive! have successfully purchased several other companies from bankruptcy and are experienced nursery managers. Niles Kinerk, Chairman of LM Farms, stated that “the opportunity to purchase Zelenka Farms assets and to continue the turnaround that is well underway is exactly the kind of opportunity that we look for. We understand the efforts of the management team led by Eric Ek and others have been successful, and we will support the management team in the coming months and years.” Zelenka Farms operates its six facilities across the key growing regions in the […]

Read More
Chrysanthemum Aphid

August 22, 2016

How To ID And Manage Black Aphids In Chrysanthemums

Growers in Michigan have recently been reporting a higher presence of this pest. Here are some tips on how to control it.

Read More
LuxFlora - feature

August 22, 2016

Check Out Luxflora’s International Adventures In Europe

A new, women-led professional organization provides its members the opportunity to gain insight, develop ideas, and build connections on its annual international trip.

Read More
Cannabis Crop Protection

August 22, 2016

Cannabis Group Stays Focused On Consistent Standards Fo…

The Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS), is an independent, third-party, not-for-profit organization, is in the process of developing cannabis-specific standards for everything from cultivation and extraction to packaging and retail.

Read More

August 22, 2016

Syngenta

Growers have new broad-spectrum fungicide options with new Segovis and Mural, as well as a new systemic insecticide with Mainspring GNL.

Read More

August 22, 2016

PL Light Systems

With the introduction of PL Light System’s new HortiLED light systems, growers no longer have to choose between quality and energy savings. Three different systems, designed for both standard and multilayer application, deliver exceptional uniformity and efficiency.

Read More

August 22, 2016

Emerald Coast Growers

Emerald Coast Growers has answers to the top trends in gardening with Chick Charms Sempervivums, two beautiful and sterile Miscanthus varieties, and the pollinator-friendly Bee You Monarda series.

Read More

August 22, 2016

PanAmerican Seed

The gorgeous large flowers of Megawatt begonias offer high-voltage color in the landscape, pots or baskets. Easily grown from seed, Megawatts come in four colors and are accompanied by eye-catching free retail kits including posters and bench cards.

Read More

August 22, 2016

PanAmerican Seed

PanAmerican Seed introduces exciting new multi-species combos from seed to its Plug & Play combo program. Trialed and proven by growers, varieties are carefully selected to grow and bloom together and make consumers come back wanting more.

Read More

August 22, 2016

How Bad Plant Pricing Can Hurt A Good Retailer

Greenhouse Grower RETAILING's pricing survey finds that the most profitable pricing method is used by only 8% of plant retailers.

Read More

August 22, 2016

IGC Chicago Scores Big With Attendees And Exhibitors

The 10th anniversary of the annual event at Chicago’s Navy Pier drew a record number of first-time attendees, while exhibitors reported higher sales than ever.

Read More
Leaf Septoria In Cannabis

August 21, 2016

Three Diseases To Watch For In Cannabis Production

The development of root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf septoria can damage cannabis to the point of complete crop loss.

Read More
Growers Supply Workshop

August 21, 2016

Learn Tips On Greenhouse Management During Growers Supp…

The hands-on workshops take place Sept. 13-15 in Iowa and Oct. 12-14 in Connecticut and feature new trends and innovations in controlled-environment agriculture.

Read More
Coreopsis-UpTickCream-19793-DarwinPerennials

August 20, 2016

Growing Tips On Coreopsis UpTick Series From John Wilso…

Editor’s Note: In this new feature, the Greenhouse Grower varieties team will choose one noteworthy variety each month we think is worth bringing to your attention. Then we’ll share growers’ and breeders’ perspectives on the best ways to produce it successfully at your operation. This month we focus on the hardy Coreopsis UpTick series, winner of Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Industry’s Choice Medal of Excellence for Breeding. Growing Tips From John Wilson, Seville Farms When asked about producing Coreopsis UpTick, John Wilson says he doesn’t have much to say because it was so easy to grow. Wilson, a Corporate Grower for Seville Farms, says based on the new series’ strong performance during the trialing he has done so far, the nursery ordered a large quantity of the plants for future growing. “If breeders were looking to come up with something that says ‘wow,’ they have done it with the UpTick Series,” […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]