In Memory

Larry Hepinstall

Larry Gene Hepinstall - globetrotter, lover of books, music, food and wine, and a keen and compassionate observer of and commentator on world events, ideas and his fellow  human beings - died on January 21, 2023 after a years-long battle with ALS.

Larry dedicated his professional life to higher education. Born in Midland, Michigan, he got his BA at Albion College in Michigan, his Master’s on a Ford Foundation scholarship at Claremont Graduate University in California, and his PhD at the University of Washington in Seattle, and went to South Korea in 1969 on a Fulbright. In 1971 he joined the full-time faculty of the University of Maryland University College (now Global Campus) overseas program,  which continues to offer university-level classes and degrees to U.S. military personnel wherever they serve. It was a match made in heaven; he was joining a close-knit community of academics with a passion for adventure and extraordinary minds and hearts open to new cultures and experiences. In stints as a teacher of politics and history around Asia, including in Da Nang during the war in Vietnam, as an administrator in Europe based in Heidelberg, Germany, and representing UMUC in Bangkok, Larry gained a reputation as an inspiring instructor, a supportive and beloved colleague and an innovative administrator.

When he ended his Maryland career at College Park after three decades, however, it was the start of something new: supporting his Korean novelist wife. Hi Soo, whom he met coming off army service in Seoul in 1960, was writing a cookbook after introducing generations of Maryland faculty to Korean food. The book that emerged, the highly successful Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen, sent Hi Soo around the country and the world with Larry as her enthusiastic assistant, featuring in the media and culinary conferences and events, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC. The couple moved to Sperryville, Virginia, where Larry plunged into local life and Democratic Party politics, and often traveled abroad to visit their daughter, Sonya, and her husband Steve and children Samantha and Oscar in Singapore and London, where Sonya worked as a Reuters journalist.

While helping Hi Soo research her next book in Kyongsangnam-do, South Korea, Larry had the first setback leading to his eventual diagnosis of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in late 2019. The debilitating disease slowly ate away at Larry’s ability to pursue some of his greatest pleasures - travel, reading independently, dancing and hosting parties with Hi Soo, not to mention beating younger competitors at squash. But he managed to find joy right up to the end - attending an Overseas Marylanders Association reunion weekend in November in Adelphi, Maryland, enjoying the recent Thanksgiving dinner with extended family in DC, and celebrating the start of the Lunar New Year in his much-loved Sperryville home the night before he went into the hospital. He also remained active and interested in politics, social justice and current events, attending academic and cultural conferences via Zoom and celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement.

Aside from his immediate family, Larry is survived by a brother, David, of New York City, and David’s wife and three sons, as well as Hi Soo’s extended Shin family in South Korea and around the United States.

In memory of Larry, donations to the ALS Association, which does indispensable work to support sufferers of the disease as well as their families, among many other things, would be most appreciated.

Larry and Hi Soo with grandchildren, Samantha and Oscar, New York City, 2012

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02/05/23 05:42 AM #11    

Sara Roth

I shared the suite with Larry's secretary (first Astrid, then Michele, followed by Jennie) when I was Bob Speckhard's secretary and we worked as a team. I remember, with great enthusiasm, being invited to the Hepinstall's home for dinner during Field Representative conferences!  Larry considered support staff to be integral in making the program function.  He was a delight to be around. (So were Hi Soo and Sonya!!)

Larry took a special interest in Bob Speckhard, and attempted to bring him out of his 'den' whenever possible.  Larry was the only one who took the time and was successful at doing this. He would reserve a squash (or was it racquetball?) court and insist Bob play with him. 

Larry was a great guy. My deepest sympathy goes out to Hi Soo and Sonya and the rest of the family. 

Sara Roth

02/05/23 09:40 AM #12    

Julian Jones

So sorry to hear of Larry's passing, but glad I had a chance to chat with him at the November 2022 OMA gathering in Adelphi. I got to know Larry after he became Area Director, Korea, during my stint as Asian Divison Director. He brought a deep knowledge of Korean life and culture to the position, and no one was better at working with ESOs, matching faculty skills and temperaments to difficult assignments and handling courses and field study requiring Korean faculty and staff. I soon learned to "leave it to Larry," one of my better decisions as Director.

Occasional administrative trips to Korea always went smoothly, leaving time for a few pleasures of travel, often suggested or curated by Larry and his wife, Hi Soo. Sometimes with my wife, Pat, we visited museums and collected Korean art and crafts they suggested. Today the walls of our home are enriched with the paintings of a notable postwar artist, Young Rim Choi. In addition, we were fortunate to benefit from Hi Soo's guidance on Korean cuisine and Seoul restaurants. Gradually we learned the depth of her culinary knowledge, later brought together in a widely read volume, Growing up in a Korean Kitchen: A Cookbook (2001).

The Overseas Program has lost one of the pillars of its success in Larry Hepinstall, and we will miss him.

02/05/23 01:23 PM #13    

Richard Dent

I had the pleasure of working with Larry in Heidelberg in 1976 when he was an Area Director.  Does anyone remember Larry's laugh?  When he got tickled his laugh would burst out and was such a delight.  He was the easiest person in the world to work with and for.  Sometimes someone's passing strikes a deeper chord.  So it is with Larry.  Rest in Eternal Peace, Larry Hepinstall.  My sincere condolences to his family and to those who were fortunate enough to know him.


02/05/23 02:28 PM #14    

Bob DeGross

i got to know Larry in Asia in the early 70s.  He had a great laugh and a wonderful sense of humor.  We also connected at College Park.  I remember a wonderful dinner at his appartment cooked by his wife.  God bless.

Bob DeGross

02/06/23 10:07 AM #15    

Steve Forrer

Audrey and I were so sorry to hear of Larry's passing. We knew him from our time in the Asian Division and later when I worked with the European Division.  Although we had not kept up in recent years, the second I read the announcement, what flashed to mind was a great smile framed with a beard and a hardy laugh. Always welcoming and warm...our sincere condolences to his family....


02/09/23 09:09 AM #16    

Paul Brewer

Oh, Larry, meant so much to me.
My remembrance here may seem irreverent but it says a lot about Larry and what he meant to me & others.
After a faculty stint as an Annually Appointed Lecturer in Asia & Europe , I rejoined the European Division of Maryland in the early 1980s as a novice, very untested, very out-of-it Area Director for South Germany/Berlin (the graveyard of Area Directorships as I was later told).  Larry became an early, special friend.  Arriving during Term III registration, I was thrown into the fire.  Another AD colleague used to bring close friends to view how crazed I seemed.  Not Larry.  So supportive, so reassuring as I struggled to learn where the hell was Nellingen was or how to assess actual enrollments v "pending" enrollments (not paid for).
In the midst of Larry's many encouragements during my initial time with the European Division, he repeatedly made a point to drop by my office to offer support.  As Area Directors do, he also began to share his own crises, notably a staffing void owing to a faculty member who had backed out of a difficult-to-staff upper level class at one of his key education centers with an especially irascible [a.k.a., difficult-to-please] ESO who would not take kindly to being told that this this class could not be staffed.  Again and again Larry paced in the halls & my office. 
Listening to Larry one morning as registration was coming to an end, he repeatedly said 'worst decision of my life.'  I thought he was referring to his critical staffing dilemma.  I said, with all the bluster of a total naivete who had received such great support from Larry in my struggles, 'don't worry, Larry, I'm sure it will work out OK.'
To which Larry stopped and asked me what I was talking about.  Your staffing crisis, I replied.  'What?' said Larry.  'I was referring to the fact that I didn't drink nearly enough scotch last night.'
Thereafter, in typical Larry fashion, he made a point to check in with me all the more, to offer suggestions, encouragement & support. 
Larry was in a class by himself.

02/09/23 09:16 PM #17    

Ralph Millis


In 1979 or ’80 when I was still a relatively new lecturer in the then Far East Division, a number of us were back in Yokota during a term break enjoying catching up with each other, swapping stories and hitting the O’Club hard. As was the wont of all Maryland lecturers then, I guess, we soon were discussing area directors, their perfidies, their competences, family lineages, etc, at length.  Finally weighing in was a veteran lecturer who had taught in both Divisions and at various times had been recruited to do administrative tasks by a succession of Directors. In short, he knew his way around and “where the bodies were buried.”  He was an insider without being inside.  He ended our evaluations of area directors abruptly and definitively:  “Hepinstall is the absolute best that Maryland has. What you see is what you get.”  A year or two later Larry transferred from the ED to the AD as Area Director for Korea, and I went over to the dark myself by also becoming an area director.  Eventually, after getting to know Larry personally and seeing him “operate” in Korea, the Wild West of the Asian Division, I remembered that concluding comment and how prescient that pronouncement was.  Larry Hepinstall was indeed “The Best” . . . in every sense of the word . . . and not just as an area director who took great care of his lecturers for Mother Maryland.

Larry’s joie vivre was best displayed, in my memory at least, one night during happy hour in a bar? restaurant? (DOCTOR FLOTTE? I don’t recall the name of the watering hole) near the European Division headquarters in Heidelberg.  I can see Larry right now, holding court at the far end of the bar, foaming stein waving in hand, lightning in his eyes, laughing like hell and shouting through the clank of glass and metal and the explosive music.  A group of Marylanders – lecturers and office comrades – clustered around him, laughing and cheering at his every Prosit! floating perilously above the din.  And through it all Larry was making his signature move when he was unrestrained and happy, that joyous, swaying, bobbing-up-and-down-but-never-leaving-the-ground “bounce.”

Earlier, colleagues contributing thoughts about Larry “In Memory” have mentioned his honesty, compassion and many of the other fine and admirable qualities he naturally showed.   Let me add a final one:  the absolute, proud and unswerving love he had for Hi Soo and Sonya; it was obvious, and it was lovely.  I hope in their current sadness they take solace in knowing their love for their husband and father helped make him the wonderful person he was.  What we saw in Larry was indeed what we got.  The greatest compliment I can pay him is that in life then, and memory now, Larry Hepinstall was a friend and a truly good man.  Prosit! Larry!

02/09/23 11:25 PM #18    

Jeffrey Simons

I met Larry when I was teaching in Korea back in 1990. While I didn't spend a lot of time with him, he made a genuine effort to make me feel part of the Asian team. When we did get together we talked about travel, and he suggested some wonderful places to visit in Thailand and Indonesia. My most mermorable time with him was when we played a couple rounds of racquetball in Seoul. He had a great game. I didn't stand a chance!

02/11/23 11:45 AM #19    

Joe Arden

Beyond question, Larry greatly merits all of the highly favorably comments that colleagues and friends have offered about him.  Around the world and over the decades, as we worked together, I always had the greatest respect for Larry---as a colleague and a friend.  He was a remarkably decent human being---in every sense of the term.

Maryland was indeed fortunate that Larry cast his professional fate with the Overseas Programs for so many years and later in Adelphi as well.  I was indeed fortunate to know him.





02/16/23 11:27 PM #20    

Dennis Gwynn

I can not imagine Maryland and Korea without Larry.  He had a long history in Korea  and was an ESO there in the 60's.

Larry was my area director in West Germany.  His first words  about me were "Where is Gwynn?" "He rode the trains up to his assignment at Neubruke." 

A few months later when news came that Larry was to be the next area director in Korea I said I'd like to work there under him. "You are welcome to work there for me." he said and he kept that promise and every promise that he ever made to me.  I owe him for that as I belonged in Asia.

A few years later Spiros  Suggested a field trip in Geology that Larry approved on the spot when I gave him a picture of an unhappy Spiros stuck in a tight spot in one cave.  Laughing  at the photo, Larry said  "we will schedule your field trip"

Larry sat in on a Spiros math class and after 15 minutes he stood up and left, saying "I don't understand one word of this".

Larry was absolutely honest and straightforward. 

Camp Coiner is gone, Mr Im* is gone and now Larry is gone

I can't imagine Korea without them.  

Dennis Gwynn

* Mr. Im was a KATUSA working under Larry in the 1960's and continued later under Larry, working in the Camp Coiner office. As a child he fled North Korea with his father on an open railcar hauling logs to South Korea.




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