On a rainy Friday morning, July 2, 2021, in the comfort of his Charlestown, NH, home, Larry Tsetsi died after being diagnosed six months ago with esophageal cancer. He was 68 years old.
He was born in 1952, the third child of Michael and Aferdita (Nichols) Tsetsi and grew up in an extended Albanian family in Hyde Park, MA. At the age of 10 his family moved to Tiverton, RI, where his father worked as a draftsman at the Navy base. Larry was a member of the first graduating class from Tiverton High School in 1970.
As an enterprising, smart, and inquisitive boy he had a large paper route, saving his money to buy a set of the World Book Encyclopedia. When he became a teenager, he worked at the local hardware store, learning the skills he would later use to fix, build, and maintain his home.
From a very young age, Larry’s passion was books. He was a voracious reader of all genres. He also loved writing, especially poetry. In 1970, he packed his poems in a folder and headed to Bates College in Lewiston, ME, to study under the poet John Tagliabue. Although he never finished his degree, he continued writing right to the end. After reading an imaginative short story written by his niece, Kristen Tsetsi, he commented, “writing is just so much fun.”
After leaving Bates, he worked part-time as a bartender in Lewiston. There he met his future wife Ellie, wooing her with poetry and beer, not necessarily in that order. They were married by the college chaplain in a small ceremony on a gray November day in 1975. They moved to Charlestown in 1976, living in the house where Ellie had spent summers with her grandparents. Larry worked countless hours tending to their home and gardens.
He held a variety of jobs over the years. He worked in a ladder factory and as an aide in the office of the NH Speaker of the House. He worked at a pizza restaurant and managed the local office of the NH Dept. of Motor Vehicles. He became the owner of an independent bookstore, Parnassus Books, where he shared his knowledge of literature with kindred spirits.
But his true life’s work, what he loved most, was his home and family. When Ellie said, “My mom is moving in”, Larry said, “Okay, let’s move the furniture.” When Ellie said “I’m bringing home a couple of babies who need a safe place tonight”, he said “Okay. I’ll get a crib ready”. He could often be found puttering around the yard with his dogs, in his workshop fixing something, or down at his “Thoreau cabin” he built himself, where he liked to write and take naps surrounded by the sounds of the woods.
His greatest enjoyment was his children and grandchildren. Amanda, who as a little girl loved to paint and draw, remembers that her dad (known as “laidback Larry” to her teenage friends), allowed her to paint a huge, unsightly mural on the side of the barn. Why? “Why not?” he said. “It’ll look nice.” When Eric had a paper route of his own, his dad would roust him out of bed early Sunday mornings, drive him on his route, and then stop at the local Jiffy Mart for Coca Cola and powdered jelly donuts. Larry loved music and shared his extensive collection with his children, especially Patrice, on their many drives to and from school, horseback riding and other activities. Much to Patrice’s delight, Larry actually hopped on a horse himself, just once.
He also spent many hours in the companionship of his dogs Amber and Duncan, gardening, playing his guitar, taking photographs and discussing the politics of national and world events. Several years ago, he joined a singing group at the Charlestown Senior Center. Practicing and performing with the Silvertones brought him immense joy in his final years.
Larry is survived by his wife of 45 years, Carmella “Ellie” Tsetsi of Charlestown; his daughter Amanda Griffin, her husband Craig and children Wyatt, Parker and Hayes of Wayland, MA; his son Eric Tsetsi, his wife Jacquelyne Kibler and children Remy and Rhys of Tucson, AZ and Amsterdam, NL; and Patrice Tsetsi of Charlestown, NH. He is also survived by his sister and brother in-law, Christine and John Popoli of Rumford, RI; his brother Mark Tsetsi of St. Petersburg, Florida; nieces Heather Tsetsi of Atlanta, GA and Kristen Tsetsi of Marlborough, CT; Nick Popoli of Deerfield, IL and David Popoli of Lewisville, NC; Kraig Pereira of Charlestown, NH; Brandon Pereira and Elisha Pereira of Fall River, MA and Random Tsetsi of St. Petersburg, FL.
He was predeceased by his parents, his brother Steven Tsetsi and his sister Linda Tsetsi.
A celebration of Larry’s life will be held on August 8, 2021 at noon at the Charlestown Senior Center, Springfield Rd, Charlestown, NH. Please drop in to share a remembrance, grab a bite and visit with family and friends.
Should you wish to make a memorial donation, please consider helping the animals at the Upper Valley Humane Society (where his dog Amber came from) or the animal shelter of your choice.
Found in his cabin a few days before he died, in almost illegible writing on the bottom of a curled yellow legal pad: “Think about me from time to time—but be happy. I enjoyed the hell out of life!”
The Stringer Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
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