A pillar of Manitoulin community and relentless gadfly of the system’s status quo

The late Larry Killens pictured here during an event he hosted following his censure by the Rainbow District School Board. photo by Michael Erskine

WHITBY—A pillar of the Manitoulin Island community, Larry Killens passed away at the age of 75 on July 6.

“I was shocked when I heard of Larry’s passing,” stated Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing. “I understand Larry passed away while visiting Manitoulin Island, having moved to Whitby in 2021. “He loved Manitoulin Island.”

“Larry never shied away from controversy,” said MP Hughes. “He always fought for justice and I know as a school board trustee or in helping someone in the community, he never shied away. He was a pillar in the community.”

“He loved his family and friends,” said MP Hughes. She wrote on her Facebook on Larry’s death, “gone, but not forgotten. Extending my deepest condolences to Larry Killens wife, Shelley and family and to his extremely wide circle of friends and colleagues. Larry dedicated much of his life fighting for the rights of others and for justice. Even those who may not have been of the same view knew that his heart was always in the right place. I am honoured to have had you as a friend and am very grateful for the help you gave me during election campaigns and events. RIP my friend.”

His daughter, Melanie Killens, told Sudbury.com her father’s passing was “very sudden and unexpected,” but peaceful.

On February 28, 1966, in Sudbury District headquarters, Larry enlisted in the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) as a civilian radio operator. He joined the regular force on June 3, 1968 and was assigned to the Red Lake detachment. He was moved to the Tillsonburg detachment on March 1, 1972. Larry was reassigned to the St. Thomas detachment on July 7, 1975 and was transferred to the Manitowaning detachment on January 10, 1977. Larry was assigned to the Parkhill detachment on May 6, 1985. He moved to the Traffic and Marine/Field Coordination branch on January 22, 1986.

Larry then moved to the Gore Bay OPP detachment on July 25, 1988, and after 30 years of service, he resigned from the OPP on September 30, 1996. 

Graham Lloyd, a retired OPP staff sergeant detachment commander with the Manitoulin OPP told The Expositor, “Yes, Larry and I worked together on the force. He was very sociable, and fair to everyone on his job. At that time, we also had Wiikwemkoong as part of our authority and Larry got along with everyone there as well.”

“Larry was a good guy,” stated Mr. Lloyd. “He was a Lions Club member in Manitowaning. He was involved in a lot of things in the community. He was great with the public and he would go out of his way to help people.”

Ron Golden, also a retired OPP staff sergeant, worked with Mr. Killens on the Manitoulin OPP. “While he was in Gore Bay, he became the community services officer.  He always had the public interest at heart. He was a good officer.”

Larry was always involved in the community serving not only as a volunteer but also as a trustee on the Rainbow District School Board for four terms, finishing his last term in 2018.

Bob Clement, current chair of RDSB said, “During his 15-year tenure as a trustee, Larry Killens was a proud representative for Manitoulin Island and a strong advocate for community schools. Rainbow District School Board extends its deepest sympathy to his wife Shelley, family and friends.”

Margaret Stringer, a trustee on the RDSB, wrote on her Facebook timeline, “Jim and I are deeply saddened and shocked to hear that our former trustee Larry Killens passed away while visiting Manitoulin this week! Our thoughts and prayers are with Shelley, Melanie, Ashley and family at this difficult time.”

Larry and his wife Shelly moved to Forest last spring to be closer to his grandchildren but always considered Manitoulin Island their home.

Although he made his home on the Island for many years, Larry wrote in a letter to the Manitoulin Expositor in early 2021 that he and his wife Shelley had chosen to move to southern Ontario to be close to their children in their retirement years.

The family reprinted that letter in The Expositor as his obituary, saying that although he had moved last year the letter was, “his final goodbye on July 6, 2022 from his favourite place on earth, Manitoulin Island.

“Thank you for the love you gave under all the different hats you wore: police officer, school board trustee, husband, grandpa, brother, uncle, dad and friend,” the family said.