Dr. Larry Edward Cort was an honorable man and a treasured husband. He passed away peacefully on Oct. 28, 2015, in the historic Coupeville home he and his wife rehabilitated together.
Larry was born in Torrance, Calif. on Aug. 1, 1955, moved to Whidbey Island when he was six months old and grew up in a happy home on Penn Cove where he and friends spent hours playing on the beach, riding bikes, trying to keep his dog Freckles from getting into trouble, camping and climbing mountains.
He graduated in 1973 from Oak Harbor High School and headed to the University of Washington to pursue a degree in geography.
While at the UW, Larry spent six months studying in Avignon, France, a time that would forever change his life and was the start of 40 years of extensive European travel. He graduated from UW in 1977 and became a cartographer at a time when cartography was an art form as much as a science. Some of the creative and artistic techniques he used in his mapmaking were new and uniquely his.
He was awarded a master’s degree in historical geography from Exeter University in England and returned to the United States to work as a cartographer at British Petroleum in San Francisco before moving to Tacoma. There, he began work as a cartographer for Pierce County but was soon tapped to move over to city planning, becoming the town planner for Steilacoom.
He left Tacoma to pursue a Ph.D. in cultural geography at University College London where he lived for several years before returning to the United States and soon becoming town planner for Coupeville in 1995 under then brand-new mayor Nancy Conard. For eight years Larry and Nancy — along with town staff, councils and citizens — accomplished some of the work that he was most proud of in his career, bringing creative ideas, outside dollars and a strong sense of public service to work for the citizens of his cherished community of Coupeville.
During this time, Larry also served the community as an active member of the Coupeville Lions, Coupeville Arts Center board member, Island County Historical Society tour leader and board member of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. He later served on the Coupeville Town Council.
In 2002, he met Lisbeth, who would become his wife in 2003, the beginning of 12 years of champagne toasts, frequent travel and European adventures, celebration and pure joy together — and with dear friends from London to the States. He was a happy man who truly lived life to the fullest, did not wait until retirement to realize his dreams and never let a minute of vacation leave go to waste.
After leaving the Town of Coupeville, he served as senior planner for the City of Oak Harbor, community planning director for the City of Langley, project specialist and finally city administrator for the City of Oak Harbor. He loved his Oak Harbor City staff, helped bring calm, creativity and stability to City Hall at a tumultuous time and never strayed from his singular focus to serve the citizens of Oak Harbor.
He is survived by his wife Lisbeth Cort, and truly crazy cat Pinot Grigio; his mother Dorothy Cort of Oak Harbor; brother Steve (Sharon) Cort of Enumclaw; nieces and a nephew. Larry was preceded in death by his cherished big brother John Cort; his father Norman Cort; and later his step-father Smokey Hoover.
A celebration of life will be held at a future date. His wife requests that in lieu of flowers, donations in Larry’s honor be made to the newly-established Dr. Larry Cort Geography Scholarship Fund of the Oak Harbor Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 1801, Oak Harbor, WA, 98277 or to Friends of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, P.O. Box 958, Coupeville, WA, 98239.