Jason Douglas Larche was born in Wichita, Kansas on October 18, 1972. An early and lifetime prodigy in the arts, he composed, notated and published his first song, “I Love Jesus,” in the Herald House book, “Children: Of Such is the Kingdom,” in the International Year of the Child. He was six years old. His life was spent writing, composing, directing, performing, studying and teaching, culminating in his recording of thirteen of his original songs just one week before his death. He was the author of plays, the composer of musicals, a prolific songwriter and the adapter of classics. His musical Angels in the Snow was performed at the United Nations in New York City, in Eastern Europe, and at international Perestroika and Theatre Festivals. At the time of his death, he had written all the music for, sketched a scenography and developed characters for a new musical. He asked his father to continue the project.
Jason got his start at Carousel Theatre of Indianola. He directed scores of plays across London and middle America and served as Artistic Director of the International Danish Immigrant Outdoor Museum Theatre, Theatre on the Bay Children’s Theatre and was the co-founder of Bohemian Renaissance Theatre Company. Still, he was best-known publicly for his more than 200 performances as an actor and singer, playing Shakespeare, musical theatre, farce and many other genres. His well-known and revered roles read like a Who’s Who of great theatre. A tall, strong and physical man, he was known on two continents for his huge and beautiful bass-baritone voice, matched only by the size of his accepting, compassionate and affectionate heart.
Jason graduated from Indianola High School, attended Millikin University and Grand View College on Performing Arts scholarships, then graduated with honors from Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Upon his return to America, he earned a Masters Degree in Theatre from Minnesota State University and had finished one year of study toward his Ph.D. in Directing from Wayne State University in Detroit. At the time of his passing, he was Director of Theatre and Instructor of Speech and Theatre at Eastern Iowa Community College in Muscatine. Earlier in his career, he taught at Central Michigan University, the University of Wisconsin Marinette, and Central High School in Marinette, Wisconsin.
Jason was an avid reader, collector, conversationalist, musician, friend-maker and game player, but nothing mattered more to him than the love of his friends and family; and he spent his short but brilliant life in pursuit of having a family of his own. It was his most-cherished dream.
Jason touched thousands of lives, students, audiences, friends, and he will be missed by all. His family cherished every moment of his life, and they include his mother, Cheryl McCloskey of Aurora, Illinois; his father and step-mother, Doug and Susan Larche, of Menominee, Michigan; his sister, Elisa Larche-Ciesla, her husband Jon, and Jason’s beloved niece and nephew Emma and Logan also from Aurora; his brothers Scott Kelley from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Mark Kelley and Mark’s wife Sarah of Carmarthen, Wales; the families of his uncles, Stephen, Michele and Molly Larche of Indianola; and Gene, Val, Vienna, Geneva and Harry Larche of Minneapolis; and Jim and Ann Raftis of Urbandale; and his step-grandparents, Dr. Richard and Grace Elliott of Lone Tree and Bonnie Larche of Buies Creek, North Carolina and the whole North Carolina clan. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Florence and Richard Knight of Wichita, Kansas, his paternal grandparents, Dr. Harry Larche also of Buies Creek and Myrtle Larche of Massachusetts, his step-grandmother, Marian Pidgeon McCloskey of Windsor Heights and his step-father, Robert McCloskey. He leaves an extended family in Kansas, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Iowa, Illinois and networks and generations of friends, including those from the Community of Christ. Virtually his entire nuclear family lived in Indianola for all of his growing-up years and he considered it his home.
The hundreds of messages of condolences received by the family include the same words over and over to describe Jason: sweet, loving, compassionate, empathetic, romantic, brilliant, gifted, creative, talented, funny, emotional, friend. His hugs were the stuff of legend. He was and remains a truly memorable and life-changing spirit gone too soon. His creative works will live beyond our lives.
There will be two opportunities for friends and family to pay respects at Overton Funeral Home in Indianola: from 9:30 to 10:30 pm on September 2 (as both Jason and his character Sky Masterson would sing, “My time of day is the night-time”); and from 11:00 am until 1:30 pm on Thursday, September 3. Funeral services are at 2:00 pm on Thursday at Overton chapel. Immediately following will be a gathering at the Trinity United Presbyterian Church, 200 S. Howard Street in Indianola that is a celebration of Jason’s remarkable and treasured life, to include hearing his songs, watching videos of some of his memorable performances, and the informal sharing of friends. The location will be announced.