Flags lined the sidewalks and entrance of the Davenport Family Funeral Home as a steady stream of mourners arrived to remember the life of John T. Larimer, a 27-year-old Navy Petty Officer from Crystal Lake.
Larimer was killed last week as he shielded Julia Vojtsek, of Algonquin, in the Colorado massacre at the Century 16 Movie Theatre.
While Larimer lost his life at a young age, his legacy of bravery will most certainly last.
“He was just a great guy who would do anything for anybody,” said Ryan Dreifke, a friend who met Larimer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. “He was passionate, he knew how to have a good time, he knew when to say the right thing, and how to be a friend.”
Larimer was a 2003 graduate of Crystal Lake South High School. After graduating from Whitewater, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June 2011 and was assigned to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Col. in October 2011.
When Dreifke heard the news about Larimer’s death, he was not surprised to hear that he died protecting another person.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit that he sacrificed himself,” Dreifke said. “He was the kind of guy who would do something like that. He put others first, and he wanted to be in the Navy so he could spend his life putting others first.”
Larimer is described as a hero, even by those who didn’t personally know him.
“I thought the least I could do, even though I don’t personally know him, was pay my respects,” Mourner Harry C. Nickelson said. “He was a hero in my mind because he saved his girlfriend’s life. He is as much of a hero as a soldier who would throw himself on a hand grenade to save his buddies.”
Fred Vukadinovic, director of the Illinois Old Guard, said that he hopes the family knows there are people out there who support them, and feel their pain.
“I know this is all a whirlwind for them today,” he said. “Hopefully they can look back at this tomorrow and understand that [the] people of Crystal Lake, of Illinois and the nation grieve for this young hero.”
Elaine Masciale, a good friend of Scott Larimer, John Larimer’s father, spoke similarly.
“They are a tremendously loving family, extremely patriotic and heartbroken,” Masciale said.
A private funeral is being planned only for family and close friends.