Larry Watkins was born May 1, 1942, many years after the births of his two older sisters. When Larry was a fairly young man living in Los Gatos, California, his father suggested that he look into a job at IBM, which was just then opening up many positions in its assembly plant in San Jose. He was hired, and he soon married. During his nearly three decades with IBM, he advanced into the cutting-edge IBM business applications and became an accomplished programmer. His work servicing business contracts with major accounts took him to Vermont, where he found The Urantia Book
He was drawn to the book largely because he wanted to know more about Jesus, and he never looked back. Larry eventually moved to Sacramento, California, and was very involved with the Golden Gate Circle Society for most of the 1990s before heading to Colorado, where he was one of the originators of Truthbook.com and a volunteer for the Fellowship.
In 2009, Larry put his scrupulous IBM coding skills to work for Urantia Foundation. It was Larry's job to standardize the formatting of The Urantia Book
and all sixteen translations so that the underlying code for all editions was identical. Without this effort, the website versions would not look as immaculate as they do now; neither would the e-book versions exist.
When Larry joined the Urantia Foundation team, he had to convert old Quark, InDesign, Word, and WordPerfect files into HTML. Then he had to add the referencing system—Paper:section.paragraph (Page number.paragraph)—to every paragraph in The Urantia Book
. There are over sixteen thousand paragraphs in The Urantia Book
If this were not enough of a task, he had to code to the rigorous standards needed to create e-books for Amazon and Apple platforms. He did all of this after he had already had three heart attacks.
Larry was also one of the newer members of the Standard Reference Text (SRT) Committee. Originally working in conjunction with the SRT 2009 Committee to coordinate the documentation to be added to Urantia Foundation’s website, Larry was appointed as a full committee member for the SRT 2015 team. Larry’s knowledge of computer technology and his attention to detail were vital to the finalization of the committee’s 2015 project.
He was also instrumental in the recent completion of the Index project that had begun many years ago, around the time of the first publication of The Urantia Book
. The HTML coding and programming he did was voluntary. Larry was always available, quick with his turnarounds, and never minded the incessant emails full of never-ending corrections.
Outside of all the work that Larry accomplished with and for The Urantia Book
, he was a well-loved personality. He worked behind the scenes with great efficiency and great humility. Many sought his opinions, and his ideas were always well-reasoned, adding clarification to any discussion. His dry, but loving, sense of humor was one of his greatest assets, and made communication with Larry a treat.
We were all very sorry to lose our friend and co-worker on February 15, 2018; at the same time, we are thrilled for him that he has embarked on the Great Adventure of all great adventures. At the end, Larry was peaceful, happy, content, and fearless. He was an inspiration to the hospital workers who attended his final days, and he maintained that loving presence of mind—along with his sense of humor—until the final goodbyes were said.
About you, it certainly will be said: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” You will be missed, friend. Godspeed, Larry!