When he opened the barn doors, the lights came on and the music began to play. “It’s an electrician thing,” Larry Pfeffer said.
Larry has been an electrician since 1969 when he began as an apprentice.
By that time he had already been drafted, enlisted and served in the United States Navy on the U.S.S. LaSalle and had returned to rural New Baden to work on the farm where he grew up with his dad.
Learning welding in the Navy, he also worked at A.O. Smith in Granite City, Ill., and his handiwork can be seen in the work he has done at his home.
The day he left a job in welding he was accepted into an apprentice program for electricians.
“I loved it from the time I got into it,” he said. “You could see things being built; I even liked the industrial jobs.”
Deciding after a time he wanted to go into business for himself, he didn’t see it as a great risk. “I always wanted
to do my own things; I knew I’d done it all these years.”
Now, he and his son, Greg, also an electrician, run the business together.
“You can be creative in making electrical decisions to make complicated things work correctly,” Larry said.
And Larry has been a good employer as well. Joseph Reeves has described his relationship with Larry when times were good, and sometimes when things went wrong.
“It seems to me that the ability to remain constantly and consistently the same presence in an ever-changing landscape of circumstances and values is a genuine example of faith in action,” Reeves said.
Reeves remembers a time when patience and care for others gave him reason to believe Larry thought the best and wanted the best for everyone.
When he was backing a van up at a construction site, Reeves ran into a stack of windows — 10 large windows — at the site, and they all broke.
“I knew Larry would handle this well, yet I was still nervous about making that phone call; after all, this was a very costly error and all of it my fault.
“He didn’t get upset or raise his voice. Instead, after asking a few questions, he told me not to worry about it and finished by telling me a story of something he himself had done once while backing up a vehicle,” Reeves said.
Reeves was not only relieved but also grateful for Larry’s understanding. “Larry Pfeffer believes in people; he genuinely believes the best about you, that you are going to be successful … and once completed, graciously thanks you for doing your job.”
Larry’s partner for many years is his wife, Carol. When she met him, Carol said he was “a farmer and an electrician. When we started working together, I realized how smart he is,” she said.
Together, the couple has “made a good team. Carol sees Larry’s “worst problem” is “he’s too generous.” When she says this, she looks at him and smiles. They both know generosity is a wonderful “problem” to have.
A convert to Catholicism, Larry always went to church with Carol, even before he joined the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at the late Father Clement Dirler’s invitation.
“I have never met a more Christian person,” Carol said, even before he became a Catholic. “I became a better Christian because of him.”
As a member of St. George in New Baden, Larry helps “electrify” the parish.
“He does not do things for recognition,” Anne Kehrer said. “He does it because he has a good heart, giving freely of his time, talent and treasure.”
Father Gene Neff, pastor, said he sees Larry’s work all around him: the rectory, the church, the community life center, Resurrection Cemetery and the lighting on the parking lots.
“Through his work, Larry is living his faith by helping to maintain the integrity of our places of worship and community life, and I don’t ever recall receiving an invoice for payment.”
Larry’s son, Gregory, who works alongside his father, describes him as “my father, my mentor, my employer and my best friend. He continues to be there for me no matter how big or small my problem is.”
Larry faces and embraces challenges that might discourage others, approaching these challenges “in a calm and focused manner with a faith-based understanding.” Gregory said.
He listens to employees and customers, “creating a supportive environment for them,” talking about his own struggles and how he addressed them and “overcame difficulties to reach his goals,” Gregory said.
Father Gene Neff puts Larry’s marketplace faith in an “enlightening” perspective. “Larry probably would not see fixing a broken electrical circuit or installing a new light fixture as living his faith, but I sure do because he does it for the right reasons — helping and serving others is what Jesus would do; doing the right thing is what Jesus would do; providing good jobs with good wages is the right thing to do; and respecting others IS what Jesus would do.”
Larry and Carol have three grown children and six grandchildren.