Lawrence “Larry” Ascenzo was born on October 25, 1953 to Ray and Peg Ascenzo in Detroit, Michigan. Although he would later tell his children that he could speak in full sentences as soon as he was born, this claim was never verified. He grew up in Roseville, Michigan, a Detroit suburb, with his brothers Ron and Brian. He often spoke fondly of his childhood, including his friends and neighbors, and playing with them during the construction of the infamous highway that was built in the backyard of his childhood home.
Larry was a person who “heard a different drummer” and decided at a young age that he wanted to determine his life for himself. He traveled to Europe as a young man, particularly enjoying Paris and London, where he loved learning about each city’s rich history and culture. He had a passion for learning new languages and always sought out opportunities to practice his French and Italian.
His travels led him to the love of his life, Rita. They met at a party thrown by mutual European travel friends. They had their first date right before Christmas in 1979. From that date on, they were almost inseparable. They would have celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary this December.
Never intimidated by a challenge, Larry decided to pursue a career in the rapidly developing field of computer programming after he and Rita moved to New York City. They continued living in New York (now in Staten Island instead of Manhattan) until shortly after the birth of their first child, Laura. They decided to move to Chicago to be closer to their families. They moved to Glen Ellyn in December 1987.
Eventually Larry and Rita’s prayers were answered and they were blessed with five children who became the focus and joy of their lives. Larry devoted himself to his children. He was incredibly involved with his children’s homeschooling, teaching them music and art as well as taking them on field trips. His week was punctuated by traditions for his children – weekly pizza and movie nights and Sunday dinners. Every Thursday, Larry and all the children (and sometimes other children as well) went together to practice for the West Suburban Homeschool Band (where Larry played a wicked trombone).
Larry was not one for sitting around and watching TV - he loved hard work and was always busy with some hobby or activity. He was an avid gardener and skilled chef. Larry held a high regard for scouting and was a Boy Scout leader for Troop 45 in Glen Ellyn for many years. He went on monthly campouts and summer outdoor adventures with his three sons, all of whom would become Eagle Scouts. He was a faithful Catholic who prayed often and studied the Bible. He was a CCD teacher at Sacred Heart parish.
Larry appreciated his children as unique individuals. He always found time for one-on-one conversations, even if they had to take place while running errands. He was keenly involved in learning about each of his children’s interests and would spend time reading about their fields of study to engage them about their work. He was so proud of who they became as they grew up into loving, responsible adults. An even greater joy came with the births of his four grandchildren who were the light of his life.
There was nothing Larry enjoyed more than a party or just getting together with friends and family. He especially enjoyed his extended family of brothers, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-laws, and his nieces and nephews as well as some old friends that he viewed as family. He possessed a dry sense of humor which sometimes caused a quick “double-take” until you noticed the twinkle in his eye. In Larry and Rita’s home, one could smell a delicious meal cooking and hear the sounds of his piano playing every day. He was a force of nature and left a void that will forever be unfulfilled in this world.
Larry survived rectal cancer in 2019. The second cancer, an aggressive neuroendocrine cancer that would end up taking his life, was discovered in December of 2020, almost a year to the day of his first recovery date. While the neuroendocrine tumor caused him constant, increasing pain, he often said that this last year was the happiest of his life because of all the quality time he got to spend with his family. One of the greatest compliments of his life was a description written by a Mayo Clinic doctor – “Larry is a delightful gentleman from Chicago.” He truly was a delightful man and will be so missed by the people who loved him. He died on October 21, 2021 lovingly surrounded by his wife and children. In addition to his wife Rita (née Stonehill) Ascenzo and five children, Laura Su (Bob), Michael (Katie), Margaret, Joseph, and James, Larry is also survived by four grandchildren, Agnes, Benedict, Matilda and Milo, and numerous beloved family members. He was preceded in death by his parents.
A visitation will be held at Leonard Memorial Funeral Home in Glen Ellyn from 3-9pm on October 28th. A funeral Mass will be said on October 29th at 10am at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lombard. Following Mass, a burial service will take place at Assumption Catholic Cemetery in Winfield and a luncheon will be held afterwards. Larry loved a party and we ask all of our family and friends to share in the celebration of his passage from this life to the next.
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