CSI and Crossing Jordan could base many episodes on the work of Larry Bedore ’71.
Two weeks after graduating with his biology degree, Larry married his college sweetheart, Dottie (Holden ’71). His first job was in a pharmaceutical production facility in Hicksville, New York. A few years later, a policeman friend made a bet that Larry couldn’t beat his score on the Civil Service Exam. Larry won the bet, and as a result became a police officer for Nassau County, New York, in 1974. Although this sounds like an abrupt career change, it was just a bend in Larry’s career track. He had always been interested in forensic lab work. Learning to investigate crime as a cop was precisely the training he wanted.
The next turn was due south—to Dunedin, Florida, in 1976, where Larry continued as a police officer, studied and obtained his master’s degree in criminal justice. A teacher’s advice in 1980 led him to a position at the Tampa forensic crime lab. Much of Larry’s work involved crime scene analysis, where his skills helped medical examiners to determine cause of death. For example, Larry could determine from the pattern of blood spatter whether a gunshot victim was a homicide or a suicide. His skills caught the attention of the Pinellas County medical examiner, who asked Larry to become the director of Operations in 1984. He accepted and worked in that position for the next 18 years.
Dottie had plenty on her plate all those years as well. She was first and foremost mother to their two children, and manager of their home in Largo. She taught CCD at their parish for 14 years and was an active member of both the PTA and the School Advisory Council. She returned to work as the children started school, first at a bank and later at three different contracting companies in accounting. Today she is accounting and human resources manager for a large commercial painting company.
In 1994, Larry signed on to the Disaster Mortuary Response Team (DMORT), a reserve group and division of the National Disaster Medical Team. Retaining his job with the Medical Examiner’s Office, he would be available in the event of a disaster. His first DMORT activation didn’t come until September 11, 2001. Larry spent 10 weeks with his DMORT team in New York City in the effort to identify human remains and return them to their families. Larry notes that the work at the World Trade Center was emotionally challenging, but says, “We were able to distance ourselves for the sake of the families who needed us to do our work effectively. If one of us got upset it would slow down the others. So you try to see it as a puzzle to solve.”
The 9/11 disaster prompted the State of Florida to develop its own, state-controlled mortuary team to have in readiness for any possible disaster. Larry became the first commander of the Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System (FEMORS) in 2003, which was first activated in the aftermath of hurricanes Ivan and Charlie in 2004. At the same time, he remains on call with the federal DMORT, and was planning chief with that agency in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. He also works for the District 8 Medical Examiner’s Office as director of Investigations. Since FEMORS is housed in Gainesville, several hours away from home, Larry now lives there during the week, while he and Dottie look forward to “dating every weekend.”
Larry and Dottie enjoyed the big reunion in Steubenville last August and admired the beauty of the campus. Dottie fondly recalls the old days: sleeping in bunks in the lounge of the incomplete Marian Hall; working with the hearing impaired as a Delta Zeta sister. Larry remembers the “new and radical” midnight folk Masses in the late sixties and bonding with his brothers in Alpha Phi Delta: “It was a wonderful team-building experience … that’s what Steubenville taught me: Everyone has something to contribute to the community.”
Originally published in the Spring 2007 Baronette newsletter.