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Father, husband, adviser, innovator, traveller, music lover. Born July 1, 1949, in Hagersville, Ont.; died May 27, 2013, in Toronto of cancer, aged 63.

Larry Michael Corea spoke of treading softly through the world, but he managed to have a big impact on a lot of people.

Born in Hagersville, Ont., Larry was one of four children of Clara and Victor Corea, who had immigrated to Canada from St. Vincent in the Caribbean. Life in Hagersville included time spent with aunts, uncles and cousins. When Larry's father was stationed in France with the Canadian Army, his family spent two years there, taking many road trips across Europe.

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Back in Canada, his family settled in Kingston, where Larry attended high school. He graduated from Queen's University with a BA, followed in 1979 by a master of social work from Carleton University.

Larry worked hard on many projects to improve health, social, education and correctional services, mostly in Ontario but also nationally. He promoted an expansion of treatment for opioid dependence in the province and led a new program for those with heroin addictions in Toronto. He talked about "retention" of clients and the idea that services should make it possible for people to access treatment, even when they were challenging and did not follow the "rules."

Later, Larry worked at DATIS (Drug And Alcohol Treatment Information System) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, contributing to making the province's data on substance abuse treatment the best in the country.

A renaissance man, Larry lived through his curiosity. His fashion sense went along with his cool, calm and collected demeanour. The quintessential early adopter, he practised yoga decades ago, grasped the potential of new technologies and was intrigued by the changes coming to workplaces and homes. Larry loved to try out new stuff – computers, cellphones, cameras, projectors, sound systems. His hobbies included, among others, drawing, painting, juggling, the guitar, along with his lifelong love of music, art and travelling.

Larry could tease and provoke at times, challenging beliefs with a relentless passion. He found much in life amusing and shared his observations with great wit. He alarmed many a new parent by having babies sit and stand on the palm of one hand.

Larry and Jane were happily together for 41 years after meeting in Kingston. They were graced with two amazing sons, Joshua and Joel, whom Larry loved beyond anything he could have imagined. He was always available to lend a hand, a joke or a quiet moment, and delighted in the wine bar, Archive, that Joel and Joshua opened together in Toronto six months before he died.

Diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, Larry managed the disease privately, not letting it interfere with savouring a rich life. Then, in just a few weeks, it progressed rapidly and would not be put back to sleep.

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He died far too soon but he enjoyed life to the fullest, which is the lesson he leaves behind. He deeply cherished, and was cherished by, Jane, Josh and Joel, and he made a difference in this world.

Jane Bertrand is Larry's wife and Joshua and Joel Corea are Larry's sons.

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