By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
“Make yourself comfortable” may well be Larry Eugene Loggins’ way of keeping house.
“Everybody does,” Loggins said. “This is a meeting place for all my friends. We all meet over here. This is one place where we hash out religion, politics and what’s in the paper, mess with one another, play dominoes. We just got finished playing a game, as a matter of fact.”
He said he might have 10-15 people at his home at any time.
“They come, and Deborah (his wife) cooks sometimes and they eat,” Loggins said, adding that sometimes, he fires up the cooker in his backyard for some fixin’s.
It’s a good way for Loggins, 60, to kick back after a busy life.
The Muskogee native said he began preaching at the age of 15. At 17, he left school to join the Navy — right in the closing years of the Vietnam War.
He has worked with handicapped people through INCOR, a service provider for people with disabilities.
As the co-pastor at Little Rose Baptist Church, Loggins has helped minister to people with all sorts of needs.
He also has shared his love of music, singing gospel and the blues.
Loggins now enjoys spending time with his wife and their three dogs.
“There’s Doodle, the poodle. That’s Deborah’s dog. He likes her,” Loggins said. “Valley is my little princess. She doesn’t do anything wrong. Then there’s Zeus. We just got him. He stays outside.”
Meet Larry Eugene Loggins
EDUCATION: Douglas Elementary, West Junior High School. Muskogee High School.
PROFESSION: Cook, co-pastor, worked at Yaffe, INCOR, served in Navy and National Guard.
FAMILY: Wife, Deborah Lynn Loggins; parents, Thaddeus and Billie Sue Snoddy; Stepsons, Bryan Griffin and Tyree Griffin III. Three dogs, Doodle the poodle, Valley the shih tzu and Zeus.
CHURCH: Little Rose Baptist Church.
HOBBIES: Bowling, fishing, cooking with the smoker.
A journey into
Larry Eugene Loggins grew up in a religious family and answered a call to preach at 15.
“I was blessed to have a family that was always in church,” he said.
But that call came after an incident that shattered his faith.
“My brother died at 14 years old. His lungs collapsed and his heart stopped beating,” Loggins said, recalling that he was 15 years old at the time. “I had given up on religion. After he died I had nothing to do with the church. I wondered why would God take my brother and leave all the other wrong-doers alive.”
Loggins recalled that shortly after the tragedy, his cousin Lansing Lee invited him to a service at Rayfield Baptist Church.
“I went on my mother’s insistence,” Loggins said. “I was sitting in the pew and I had a Bible and the preacher was preaching. I was saying ‘This was wrong.’ All of a sudden, next thing I knew, I was standing down in front of the church and I said, ‘The Lord called me to preach.’”
Loggins recalled that after a moment of surprise, he felt a warm feeling inside.
He recalled coming back home with the news. He said his grandmother was not surprised.
“My grandmother always said I was going to be a preacher,” he said. “Grandmother said, ‘I knew it because I saw the glow on his face.’”
Returning to school with this newfound faith wasn’t easy.
“When I started preaching, they didn’t want to hang out with me anymore, because I was a preacher and I was at West Junior High School at the time,” he said.
Loggins continued his pastoral journey under the leadership of the Rev. T.L. Turner.
“He was very influential in my preaching career,” Loggins said. “He taught me to be patient, taught me to wait on the Lord. He also taught me to preach the Gospel, no matter what. If I don’t make you mad, then I’m not preaching to you.”
From the pulpit
to the military
Loggins’ early church work and school work was interrupted when he was 17 and a junior at Muskogee High School.
At the time, he was married to an older woman who also was a teacher.
“I went into the service because I wanted to provide a good home for her,” he recalled. “I couldn’t support her in high school.”
Loggins joined the Navy, where he spent “four glorious years.”
This was 1972, when the Vietnam War was still raging. Loggins was assigned to the USS Blakely, which went to Vietnam.
“It was a destroyer escort,” Loggins recalled. “We’d pull up in front of an aircraft carrier when there was a missile. It’s better to lose 350 people (on the escort) than 2,500 (on the aircraft carrier). Our job was to come in front of it and absorb the torpedo.”
Loggins said he asked for a transfer once he found out what his assignment was. He said he was then assigned to a guided missile cruiser.
“I went straight from the skillet to the fire,” he said.
After coming home from the Navy after the war, he served six years as a combat medic with the National Guard.
“I was always into medicine because my mother was a nurse, so I knew medicine,” he said. “It was fascinating to me. We were doing field training exercises, and they asked me if I wanted to be a combat medic. If your guts are hanging out, I get them, stuff them in there, tape them up, hook up an IV until they can come get you and take you to triage.”
He later joined the Army Reserve. He recalled a short stint, serving in Desert Storm with the 827th Supply Company.
He served as a chaplain and a mess cook until 1999.
Loggins recalled growing up in a musical family. He said his mother used to sing with rock pioneer Bo Diddley in the 1960s.
He found an outlet for his singing while attending Connors State College in the late 1970s. He said he started Connors as a speech and drama major.
“I joined New Horizons, a band that was used for promotional purposes,” Loggins said, recalling that he was chosen as a lead singer after auditioning. He recalled singing some blues songs, some religious songs, some songs that were in the Top 40 at the time.
“We’d play at the Sheraton Skyline East, on the Betty Boyd Show (a popular Tulsa TV show at the time), the March of Dimes Telethon,” he recalled.
The band also opened for B.J. Thomas when the “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” singer performed at the Muskogee Civic Center.
Loggins now enjoys singing blues music at karaoke and gospel music at church. He can break out into either type of song at a moment’s notice.
He said he sees no difference between blues and gospel.
“You’ve got to feel it,” he said. “In gospel, you’ve got to feel the spirit in the music. In blues, you’ve got to visualize what you sing. You’ve got to be in the moment.”
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“I was born and raised at 606 S. Sixth St., right in front of People’s Funeral Home. Now, it’s Biglow Funeral Home.
“Most of my family brought me back. I’m the oldest child in the family.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
“I love Muskogee because of the people and my friends. There is still prejudice in Muskogee. But people are just friendly. They stop and help people.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“If someone would invest in some black clubs. What we need is someone to step up and put up some nice bistros and lounges in Muskogee. We need more things for kids to do, things for ages 16 to 19. We need to bring in more restaurants and businesses, such as Carl’s Jr. What I really think we need is to have a program to get young men to be deacons. Make this a better place.”
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?
“Co-pastor at Little Rose Baptist Church.”
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
“I like to fish. I like to bowl. Have friends over. We play dominoes, cards.”
WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?
“My mother and father. I watched them suffer to raise kids. I saw Mother walk to work from Third Street clear to 32nd Street. When she got back from work, she cooked. She would not eat until the kids were fed. I watched my father walk to work. There is my grandmother Elizabeth Perkins, who helped raise me when Mother was dredging up a living.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“When I was a black student. I became co-captain of the football team at West Junior High. I got to walk a white girl to the prom. I remember being called a n----- when I started at West Junior High.
“My next most memorable thing was when I was called to the ministry. Seeing my mother’s face.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
“I love Muskogee. But there’s no place for folks like us to have a good time.”