Steamboat Springs Friends and co-workers remember former United Methodist Church pastor Larry Oman as being committed to his congregation and his community, well beyond the walls of the church. Oman died Thursday after a six-year battle with cancer. He was 65.
Oman, who moved to Steamboat Springs in 1996, served as the pastor at UMC for 10 years. He was instrumental in starting Routt County Habitat for Humanity, an extension of a life devoted to faith-based service.
"Larry was just a great guy to work with. He had the best of intentions for the church and for the community, and working with him day in and day out, it was very easy to clearly see that commitment he had," said Tim Selby, a pastoral associate at UMC.
Selby said that in his years working with Oman, he saw an unwavering commitment to church and community, as well as to his congregation's consciousness and involvement in local and world issues.
"He really helped keep those broad issues in front of us as a church so that we were connected to the world in relevant and meaningful ways," Selby said.
Larry Oman was born in Kansas on Dec. 4, 1941, the son of Robert and Mildred. When Oman was 10 years old, the family moved to rural, eastern Indiana, where he became heavily involved in his church's youth group.
In college, Oman majored in history and minored in religion at Depauw University in Greencastle, Ind. There, he became involved in the civil rights movement - partially because his roommate, who was black, was discriminated against in segregated establishments, Oman told the Steamboat Pilot & Today in 2002.
The day after graduation, he married his wife Martha, and the couple joined the Peace Corps and served in Colombia. After a two-year tour, Oman enrolled in seminary at Yale University. He took a year off to work at an inner-city church in Indianapolis, where he worked for three years as an associate pastor after graduation from Yale.
Oman then spent a number of years working with smaller churches in Princeton, Bloomington and Nashville, Ind., focusing his work on youth ministry and rural communities. In 1984, he and his family made the move to Colorado, where he worked in Colorado Springs, Greeley and Lakewood before coming to Steamboat Springs in 1996.
In addition to his work with UMC, Oman was interested in affordable housing in the Yampa Valley. He worked with LIFT-UP and helped establish Routt County as an official Habitat for Humanity affiliate in 1999. When Oman retired from the church because of his health in June 2006, the organization had built five houses.
"As much as anybody, he's been an integral part of Habitat since it's been here," said Jim Ballard, Habitat treasurer and board member. "Habitat is a faith-based organization, and he, I think, just had a very strong commitment to doing something for the needy people in our community."
Oman is survived by his wife, Martha, and children, Erik, Kyle, Kirstin and Karin.