VAN WERT — Larry Dean Bracken, 80, of Van Wert, passed away at 9:25 a.m. on Sunday, July 25, 2021 at Lima Memorial Hospital.

He was born on November 8, 1940, in Charleston, Illinois, the son of the late Clarence and Lila (Dunkerly) Bracken. On August 16, 1964, he married the former Donna Winkle, who survives. Together, they shared over 57 years of memories.

Larry was a 1958 graduate of Continental High School. He received his undergraduate degree from The Defiance College in 1961 and his Masters Degree, in 1964, from the University of Toledo.

Larry began his career as a teacher in Grover Hill in 1961. He later went back to Continental where h taught and became the elementary principal. From 1967 to 1974 he was principal in Landeck and in Delphos at Franklin and Jefferson Schools. His career extended onto becoming Superintendent of Schools at Millcreek-West Unity and Lucas Local Schools. In 1980, he became Putnam County Superintendent of Schools until his retirement in 1993. After retirement he was the administrator at Otterbein Leipsic Retirement Community and owned and operated Bracken Insurance Agency.

Larry was a charter President of the Continental Lions Club. He was a long-time, 32nd degree member of the Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio where he was past Master of the Israel Putnam Lodge #797, past District Deputy of the 4th Masonic District, and a member of the Zenobia Shrine. Larry was also a very active member of the Continental United Methodist Church, where he served in many different capacities through the years.

Larry enjoyed woodworking, wood carving, fishing, gardening, bird watching, antiquing with Donna, and attending all of his grandchildren's many activities.

Larry's passion was to help kids succeed in life.

Surviving are his wife of 57 years, Donna Bracken; his three children: Craig (Lisa) Bracken, Anissa (Bill) Prowant, and Dean (Sandy) Bracken; his eight adoring grandchildren: Jeffrey Prowant, Allison (Jordan) Wade, Clay Matthew, Morgan (Hunter Blankemeyer), Madison, Evan, and Nate Bracken.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Janna Downing; and two brothers-in-law: Sandy Downing and Al Sarka.

A celebration of Larry's life will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 29, 2021 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 220 South Walnut Street, Van Wert, Ohio, 45891, with Pastor David To officiating. A private burial will take place in Monroe Township Cemetery, Continental.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, 722 South Washington Street, Van Wert, Ohio. A masonic service will be held at 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Larry's memory may be directed to the Continental Community Library, or the Israel Putnam Mason Lodge #797.

To share in Larry's online memorial, please visit

Arrangements have been entrusted to Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory.