Leaving a legacy: A patriotic family involved in Madison
WRITTEN BY GREGG L. PARKER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
Since settling in Madison 32 years ago, Larry and Lisa Vannoy have kept constantly busy as youth mentors, public servants, entrepreneurs, activists for veterans and as parents and grandparents.
As “military brats,” Larry and Lisa lived in Oklahoma, Texas, California, Oregon, New York, Virginia, Vermont, Florida, Japan, France and England.
In high school, they both lived in Sumter, S.C., for their fathers’ assignments at Shaw Air Force Base. The year was 1973. “I saw Lisa in her neighborhood. I tracked her phone number, called and went to her home the same day,” Larry said. Larry had long hair and a jacked-up red Chevy Impala and owned a motorcycle. “To Lisa’s dad, a strict military man, I was known as ‘the bum.’
“Lisa kissed me at that first meeting. I knew she was ‘the one.’ We were pretty much inseparable after that,” Larry said. They married 22 months later with $350 in the bank.
Enrolled at the University of South Carolina, Larry received an Air Force ROTC scholarship, while Lisa attended nursing school. “Believe it or not, we lived on $100 a month, counting every penny,” he said. Two years later, he graduated with an engineering degree and was assigned to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Lisa continued nursing study. A year later, their first daughter was born.
The Vannoys were stationed at Kennedy Space Center, Florida; Lindsey Air Force Station, Germany; and Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C.
When Larry separated from active duty in 1986, the family moved to Madison. Larry served another 21 years in the AF Reserves in Los Angeles; Dayton, Ohio; Tullahoma, Tenn.; and two Alabama locations.
In May 2018, Larry became commander of American Legion Post 229 in Madison. As a longtime resident, he said he has a clear perspective on veterans’ needs and accessing resources.
“Our Post is very active, demanding lots of time, often during the day. Few members have the time to dedicate,” he said. “I’m retired – except for our store – so I’m willing and available.”
With 300 members, Post 229 is Madison’s only veterans’ organization. Post 229 offers emergency aid, home visits, transportation for medical appointments and comradeship. Community visibility and patriotism are important, shown by the post’s events, civic involvement and youth mentoring.
The post sponsors three baseball teams and Junior Shooters air rifle program. Members also chartered an American Legion Women’s Auxiliary.
As commander, Larry said he wants to add a veterans’ service officer to help access benefits and offer options to veterans’ families, such as care packages, holiday dinners and social activities.
A motorcycle buff, Larry might also start a Legionnaires riders group.
The Vannoys’ children are all products of Madison City Schools: Jessica of Franklin, Tenn.; Ashley of Madison; Adam, an Air Force major, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Joshua, a Bob Jones student. Grandchildren are Riley, 13; Regan, 11; and Charlotte, 2.
For 13 years, Lisa has been proprietor of Posh Mommy & Baby, Too!, a one-stop baby boutique that’s the largest by size and inventory in Alabama and much of Tennessee. The shop offers clothing, baby and youth furniture, recliners, healthcare products, accessories, strollers and car seats. Personalizing is available with monogramming, sublimation printing and vinyl.
“Lisa offers warm, caring personalized service and knows our products – something you don’t get when purchasing online. Product quality and customer service is more important to us than competing with big-box discount franchises,” Larry said.
In volunteering, Larry has served as Cub Master and Assistant Scout Master; coach for softball, baseball and soccer; and president of the Madison Street Festival Committee. Lisa has helped with Relay for Life, March of Dimes, Hospice and United Way. They are also members of Forever Young Senior Veterans, Quilt of Valor and Bob Jones Band executive board.
For 30 years, Larry has worked as a defense contractor. He has supported Missile Defense Agency and Army Space and Missile Defense Command in hardware/software test and evaluation as launch operations manager and target launch director at Pacific Missile Range, Kauai, Hawaii and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. He also worked for Teledyne Brown Engineering, Schafer Corporation, Davidson Technologies and Lockheed.
“In parallel, I served as AF reservist for Missile and Space Intelligence Agency, test labs at Wright Patterson AFB and Department of Homeland Security, retiring as a colonel,” Larry said.
Larry also served 12 years on Madison City Council. In retrospect, he said he feels most fulfilled for promoting Eastview Drive Extension; construction of two elementary schools and James Clemens High School; and adding a fire station. While Larry was finance committee chairman, the city gained two credit-rating upgrades, added outdoor swimming and tennis at Dublin Park and collaborated for a YMCA.
As director with the Water and Wastewater Board, he worked to access the Tennessee River for unlimited water for Madison.
Larry’s schedule required “a wonderful, supportive wife, understanding children and living with four hours of sleep,” he said. “I believe in the cliché, ‘Leave the planet better than you found it.'”
American Legion Post 229 meets monthly on second Thursdays at 7 p.m., Lunar Lodge, 740 Eastview Drive, Madison. For more information call 256-258-8534 or visit www.AmericanLegionPost229.org.
Posh Mommy & Baby Too! is located at 7755 U.S. Highway 72 West. For more information call 256-722-3181, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit online at poshmommyandbabytoo.com and on Facebook.