Community mourns passing of H.O. Langrall

In the last picture Dean Langrall has of his father, taken a few weeks ago, he was holding a print-out of the sonogram for the great-grandson he was expecting.

H.O. Langrall never got to meet the baby. The 90-year-old, remembered for his family’s successful furniture store, and as a World War II veteran, died Aug. 12.

“He had renal failure and a lot of things going wrong for a long time. He went quickly in the last six or eight weeks,” his son, Dean Langrall said, his voice occasionally breaking.

His father was the last member of an original group of men who gathered for breakfast weekday mornings since the early 1970s, most recently, at Dayton’s on Snow Hill Road and, years ago, at Johnny and Sammy’s.

“They were the movers and shakers of their day,” the younger Langrall said.

“There were bankers, lawyers, judges, retailers, car dealers. I remember going every once in a while. People like the Norm Hollands of the world and the Avery Halls of the world, people that kind of made Salisbury grow right after World War II, were there,” he said.

“Not everybody was there every morning, but there were about 30 or 40 guys. My dad was the last one. Alf Truitt was next to the last one,” Langrall said.

Judge Alfred Truitt, a close friend of Langrall’s, died in early June.

“My dad was very personable,” his son said.

“As a father, he was a good teacher. He was always kind. He worked a lot but we had vacations that were fun. He was a religious man and very proud of his service to our country.

“He was drafted in 1943, into the Army. He was a second lieutenant at the age of 19. It was a different time,” Langrall said.

His father  participated in the occupation of Japan and was on active duty until October 1946. Afterward, he was in the U.S. Army Reserves until 1966, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

A staunch Republican devoted to an ambitious work ethic, Langrall was a liberal thinker, his son said.

“He was quite the charmer, too. Women loved him. Not that I would ever use my father to get a girl, but once they met him they thought, ‘This guy might be OK,’” he said, referring to himself and laughing.

“He and my mother worked hard for their money and they sold good quality. Langrall’s Furniture was one of nicest places in town,” the younger Langrall said.

His father was the second generation in the well-respected business, that closed after being open for years in the old Salisbury Mall. It first opened on the corner of Camden and Market streets, across from the old Feldman’s.

“My grandfather sold reconditioned vacuum cleaners out of the back of his car. That’s how it started. He was a pretty good salesmen. My father, was, too,” Dean Langrall said, characterizing his father as a man who was always there for his family.

He and his wife, the now deceased Betty Jane Brittingham Langrall, were married in October of 1943, before his father left for military duty. They had two children, Dean, and daughter  Jane Langrall Robinson. Later, he remarried Charlotte H. Langrall, who survives.

For his children, Langrall was an example of how to treat others, a believer that it wasn’t as much about product as customer service.

Son-in-law Bill Robinson called him “one of those men my generation viewed with admiration as being the foundation of what made Salisbury a special place to grow up.”

“Getting to know him as my father-in-law, I came to realize Tom Brokaw was right about the Greatest Generation. This town was blessed by his entrepreneurial spirit and his genuine appreciation for what it meant to be native Eastern Shoreman,” Robinson said. Dr. Jeurel Singleton, who retired from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, knew Langrall from the YMCA, where he went to exercise.

“He would talk about World War II. He was an awesome person. He would cheer us on in our exercise program. He was very energetic and extremely charming, a gentleman always. Just a wonderful person,” she said.

His son feels the same way.

“He was a real good guy,” he said.

“He was in the generation of men who worked hard. My dad was a remarkable guy.”

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