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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remembering Don Largen, Victim of Yesterday's Shooting at Cafe Racer

Posted by on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 4:58 PM

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Don Largen made his living as a land use and urban planning consultant, but to many around the neighborhood, he was the quiet guy in glasses and a black knit cap who'd always smile and nod when you saw him. If he knew you, you were his friend. "If you asked Don how he was doing, he'd actually tell you," one neighbor said. "On summer nights you could hear him playing saxophone in his back yard."

Another said: "He was the nicest guy ever."

Don was a regular at Cafe Racer. He'd often pop in just for a coffee in the morning, and usually didn't stay for too long. Most of the times I saw him in there, he didn't even take a seat. Yesterday he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. (He's the closest patron to the camera sitting at the Cafe Racer bar in the surveillance video screen-captures plastered across the front page of the Seattle Times.)

The morning after the day of the shootings it's calm on NE 59th Street, where Don lived with his wife, Glenna, their house little more than a football field’s length from the front windows of the café. If not for the television news vans and the dogs barking at them through the windows of houses, you'd not know anything was amiss today—that is, until you reached the end of the block and the storefront of the cafe, where a huge memorial of flowers and notes and candles lies at the doorstep. On the paper covering the window from the inside, someone has written, "God Bless Drew, Joe, Kim, Len, and Don." Elsewhere: "Please be kind to your neighbors."

It's still unclear, but it's highly likely that Don knew his killer, even if he didn't know it was coming. All the regulars and employees knew each other on a first-name basis. "We all knew [the shooter]. We've all kicked him out," one bartender from the cafe told me last night. "He had anger issues..."

This morning, I take my nephew Eamon for a walk around the block (my brother and sister-in-law, and their kids, live three doors down the street from Don's house), and a neighbor from further down the street recognizes my nephew. I introduce myself, and she asks, "I was walking by Don and Glenna's house, and I wanted to ask, but I didn't see them home, if Don was at the cafe yesterday."

"He was," I say. "He didn't make it." And with that, she breaks into tears. Don is survived by his wife, Glenna. They have no children.


Comments (22) RSS

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Well, if this is an example of the collateral damage we all must suffer so that gun lovers can have the FREEDOM to play Wild West with live ammo in public places, I'm afraid the rest of us will just have to (pardon the expression) bite the bullet.
Posted by maddogm13 on May 31, 2012 at 5:03 PM · Report this
Thanks for writing this, Grant.
Posted by gloomy gus on May 31, 2012 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Don was a regular at the bar I worked at for years in the U District. Always nice even when he was in a shitty mood and one of everyone's favorites customers. Within the last year I started running into him at Racer and he always took the time to ask how I was doing and talk for a bit even though we barely really knew each other.

People always say things like that when people die, but he really was an incredibly good dude.
Posted by Cappelletti on May 31, 2012 at 5:05 PM · Report this
kim in portland 4
Rest in peace, sir. Your smile made this stranger weep.
Posted by kim in portland on May 31, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
It saddens me that it always seems like good people lose their lives in these incidents and not the assholes.
Posted by sisyphusgal on May 31, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
Don was the sweetest guy, always super chill and friendly. Everyone at Big Time Brewing where I worked was glad to see him and Glenna whenever they stopped in for a barleywine. He was something of an insomniac so i'd often see him at the racer, or plaid pantry or somewhere in the UDist at random hours of the day or night. He was a guy you were always glad to see. Sincerest condolences to Glenna and the rest of Don's friends and family.
Posted by cb on May 31, 2012 at 5:32 PM · Report this
I never knew his name was Don, but he taught me about rain barrels and always said hello. Tragic.
Posted by a_neighbor on May 31, 2012 at 5:47 PM · Report this
I never knew his name was Don, but he taught me about rain barrels and told me where to get the good ones. I did! A tragic loss of yet another innocent.
Posted by a_neighbor on May 31, 2012 at 5:54 PM · Report this
Don practically lived in the Allegro for many, many years. I pumped espresso there from 1983 to 1994. He was amazing. I could go on and on, but his sense of humor and fucking kindness is what I'll most remember. Not some artificial kindness, he was just a gentle guy who was genuinely interested in how you were and what your thoughts were.

Lots of coffeehouse customers want to be friends with the staff. Often the feelings are not mutual. We were happy to have Don (and Glenna!) as friends. My heart goes out to her.
Posted by gnossos on May 31, 2012 at 8:58 PM · Report this
GlamB0t 10
Thoughts are with Don's loved ones at this time.

Thank you for writing this piece, Grant.
Posted by GlamB0t on June 1, 2012 at 8:11 AM · Report this
Don was a near and dear friend to my family. I thank you for writing this. All of your comments and memories are absolutely heart warming. Please keep your Glenna and Don's family in your thoughts and prayers.
Posted by rachelae on June 1, 2012 at 10:36 AM · Report this
Thank you for the wonderful, respectful article. Don and Glenna are very close to our family. We have been friends with Don for 35 years and his caring smile and humor will be missed everyday.
Posted by cathe on June 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM · Report this
I knew Don since 1988, we met at the UW. We never talked much but throughout the years we bumped into each other at the Allegro, Big Time or on the Ave. He was always the nicest, kindest guy. I took pride in the fact that he was one of the first people I got to know after moving to Seattle. He was my "Ave anchor". Always there, always friendly.

You will be missed, Don! My sincere condolences to Don's family and friends.
Posted by lyulyok on June 1, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
We have created a memorial fund in Don's name to pay for funeral expenses and to help support his partner of 22 years, Glenna. Anyone can make a donation by going to any Bank of America and asking to donate to the Donald B. Largen Memorial Trust Fund. Any help is greatly appreciated. Don was a good, caring, strong man and any donations act as a small token to honor his memory. Please help.

Bank of America suggested separate accounts be set up for each individual victim, due to legal issues. I'm sure other memorial accounts are in the making too, and I pray every individual receives some help in this great time of need.

Don was a dear, longstanding friend of the family. His loss is a cavernous black hole that will never be filled.
Posted by Kazem on June 1, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
Don was my friend for nearly 18 years. I loved him. God, how I'll miss his smile! Thanks for the article, Grant.

Geoff Ingle
Posted by ulysses7245 on June 1, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Don Largen was my friend for nearly 18 years. I loved him. God, how I'll miss his smile!

Geoff Ingle
Posted by ulysses7245 on June 1, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
A Lindsay 17
Don and Glenna were the best of the best regulars at Big Time - there would be smiles, laughter and maybe even an inappropriate joke.... I keep hearing his laugh in my head - I hope I'll always remember it. He will be soo very missed. We'll be here for Glenna, always.
Posted by A Lindsay on June 1, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
We at Cafe Allegro are having an informal remembrance, memorial for our dear friend Don Largen. He was at Cafe Allegro from Day ONE. Please come to share, listen and be part of our community. 9-12 in the morning. Please share this and invite others. Cafe Allegro is in the U-district near the corner of university ave and 42nd. Tommorow. SATURDAY
Posted by shifter on June 1, 2012 at 5:20 PM · Report this
To Glenna and Don's family, Friends I met Don and Glenna almost 20 years ago I used to own Automate sales 1/2 a block from the Cafe and they had bought a few cars from me. Don was the epitomy of Class as my Dad would say a a true Mentsch. He and Glenna took the time to send me a thank you note for selling them their car. Who does that anymore? Out of the hundreds of customers I had he and Glenna are among the few I remember best.
Odd that I was thinking of Don recently because everytime I saw him he was wearing a hat and I had bought one like his a few weeks ago. My hat will have a more poignant value to me now.
Rest in peace Don...

Howard Boher
Posted by EXAUTOMATE on June 1, 2012 at 6:20 PM · Report this
Don was one of the first people I met when I first moved to the U. District in 1977. I have fond memories of spending time with him at the Allegro and at the house he shared near the corner of 15th and Ravenna. His death makes me very sad.

Brad Miller
Posted by BradM on June 2, 2012 at 12:48 PM · Report this
Don was a truly real person with a very infectious smile. And it's true, when you asked him how he was doing he woud tell you honestly and interestingly keep you involved with every word. He had a great mind that seemed to always be thinking. when I was starting out with my little card business he and Glenna were very supportive and actually bought probably about 7 of my cards and seemed to cherish each one which was toughing and flattering to me. Don is the one who came up with the name of my card business and I think of him every time I make a new card!
My heart is very sad to hear of Don no longer with us. And my heart goes quickly to Glenna. I am thinkin g of you dialy and sending every poistive vibe of my being to you. I cannot possibly know what you are going thourgh my friend, but I want you to know I am with you in thought and when I see you I have many many hugs for you if you want them ad a big ear to liten if you'd like.
Thank you Don for the good good memories and the ultimate inspiration for my cards.
Posted by Tric on June 4, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
My husband and I have known Don and Glenna for many years and we were heartbroken to hear the news. Don had a sense of humor that was at once witty and generous. He was kind, funny, down-to-earth, intellectual, and sincere. Thank you for posting this article about him. We loved him and our hearts go out to Glenna.
-Julie Devine
Posted by juliedev on June 11, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Report this

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