Larry Pitcher, former president of Christian Record Services for the Blind (CRS), passed to his rest on the morning of Saturday, January 7, 2023, after several illnesses in 2022 and complications from heart disease. He was 76. Pitcher served as CRS president from January 1, 1995, until his retirement on September 30, 2015.
“We are saddened at the passing of our brother, colleague, and friend, Elder Larry Pitcher. He has served the church faithfully in various capacities. I came to know him as he led the Adventist Church’s Christian Record Services organization,” said G. Alexander Bryant, chair of the Christian Record Services, Inc. Board of Directors and president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD).* “Larry was faithful, enthusiastic, and loved serving his God and his Church. This world is a better place because it was touched by the life and ministry of Larry Pitcher.”
“Larry Pitcher was so committed to helping the blind and visually impaired. He and his wife, Leilani, were constantly thinking of ways to provide more services to those in need,” said Ted N.C. Wilson, Seventh-day Adventist Church president, and former CRS board chair. "He will be remembered as an ardent defender and advocate for those needing help. He allowed Jesus to work through him in touching the lives of many. We will see Larry soon when Jesus returns to bring full sight to the visually impaired and to all of us!"
Here is a partial list of accomplishments achieved by CRS during Pitcher's tenure as president:
- All magazines produced by CRS were converted from LP (vinyl records) and audio cassettes to digital format.
- The CRS website and Facebook and Twitter pages were launched to help raise awareness about the ministry.
- The El Centinela audio magazine was introduced to Spanish-speaking members.
- CRS provided its first Sabbath School lessons in Spanish.
- Light, a large-print magazine, was developed and released.
- The CRS audiobook lending library was transitioned from cassette audiobooks to digital cartridges, compatible with digital players provided free to people who are blind by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled.
- Insight4Vets, a hand-held audio device with specially selected content, was developed to provide caring support and encouragement for blinded veterans.
“The impact of Larry Pitcher’s service for the Lord will not be fully known until heaven, but without a doubt Christian Record Services and those we serve who are blind were blessed by his heartfelt commitment to the ministry for so many years,” said Diane Thurber, current president of CRS since 2015. “He and his wife, Leilani, were instrumental in advancing the ministry not only in North America but in other regions of the world. I am thankful for the life and legacy of Larry Pitcher, and Christian Record Services continues to build on the foundation he helped lay.”
Before serving as CRS president, Pitcher was senior pastor of the Wichita South Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kansas from 1987-1995. He is remembered for planning and participating in successful city-wide evangelistic campaigns, including a Field School of Evangelism with the Seventh-day Adventist Church Theological Seminary. He also established a teen club at the Wichita Church and conducted a weekly businessmen’s Bible study with community friends.
Pitcher also served as senior pastor of the Olathe and Ottawa District in Kansas from 1981-1987. The church experienced significant growth as a result of the evangelistic campaigns organized under his leadership. A church plant was started that later became the West Lenexa Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Overall, Pitcher enjoyed 40 years in service, beginning his ministry on October 1, 1975, as pastor of the Garden City Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kansas.
Pitcher was passionate about helping all people and encouraging them to share their gifts, regardless of their ability. In a Ministry magazine article he wrote in 1996, he stated, “Often the unspoken notion that disability disqualifies a person for service lingers in our subconscious mind. Working with those with disabilities may require a little extra planning, but it's worth the time and effort. These people have talents and the desire to share.”
He continued, “Sometimes it's helpful to remind ourselves that vision-impaired people can do everything but see. They can hear (very well!), they can think, and they can participate. A hearing-impaired person can do everything but hear. Changed attitudes lead to changed actions. . . . When all is said and done, there is one thing we cannot afford to forget: Ministry needs to touch everyone, including those with disabilities.”
“Larry’s passion, second only to his love for Jesus and his family, was for ministry,” said Jeri Lyn Rogge, editorial and outreach ministries director at CRS. “This passion propelled Larry’s desire to reach people in the blind community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope of the Second Coming and extended to serving his local church as a Sabbath School teacher.”
Pitcher is survived by his wife, Leilani, a retired nurse; children Todd (Caroline), Christine, and Rob; grandchildren Josie, Madison, Chris, and Gavin; and many additional family members and friends who loved Larry.
A memorial service will be held at the Johnson County Funeral Home and Memorial Garden in Overland Park, Kansas on Friday, January 13 at 2:00 pm. There will be a visitation from 12:00 - 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making a donation to Christian Record Services. Please pray for the Pitcher family.
*In April 2016, the organization, formerly a General Conference ministry, officially joined the NAD family of ministries.