Louie, as he was known, was born to Louis T. and June LaRock July 2, 1951 while they were on vacation in Hot Springs, South Dakota. He was six weeks premature and the family lived in Casper, Wyoming for a short time. Due to his fragile health they moved to Plains, where Louis LaRock Sr. had lived in childhood.
Louie attended school in Plains and graduated in Thompson Falls in 1969. After a brief stint at the University of Montana, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1971, serving on many ships, notably the USS New Jersey off the coast of Lebanon for nearly a year. Through his tours he circled the globe and liked to talk about drinking beer and looking out over Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. He was also stationed several times at Bangor Naval Submarine Base in Bremerton, Washington. He retired after 20 years in July 1991 but kept in contact with many of his shipmates and navy buddies. The Internet served him well with his background as an electronics technician, both in keeping in touch with friends and allowing him to read newspapers and play on line games.
On returning home to Thompson Falls his sister Jane handed him the keys to the family saloon, LaRock's bar, much to his dismay and he sold it as soon as possible. He bought a house in Thompson Falls where he enjoyed the view of the Clark Fork River from the deck. He loved the Thompson River country, where the family had once lived and owned the River Ranch Inn, and he often took his morning paper up to the West Fork of Thompson River to read, enjoy the solitude and the scenery.
He was a member of the Old Jail Museum Players, acting several parts in plays, helping them to raise funds and later was appointed to the Sanders County Historical Society’s Board of Directors. Louis was very interested in and knowledgeable about Sanders County’s history. He liked to theorize that Thompson Falls was not named after David Thompson but Packer Thompson who supposedly resided near the falls. He always planned on going to the Montana Historical Society in Helena to test his theory.
In 2000, Louie was appointed to serve as mayor of Thompson Falls after an unexpected vacancy in that seat. He had faithfully attended council meetings and served on key committees and was the unanimous choice for the post. He said at the time he had the time and desire and would do whatever it took to do the job right. He served as mayor for nearly 10 years and later became a Thompson Falls City Council member. For eight of the years as mayor, he was the District 8 representative on the Montana League of Cities and Towns Board of Directors. Executive Director Alec Hanson said frequently the seat went to a representative from larger cities and in choosing Louie, it brought a new perspective to the board and Louie served with distinction. Hanson said few individuals had the knowledge and dedication that Louie offered.
As mayor, Louie helped achieve major improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems, revamped internal systems and helped create the Main Street linear park.
He would occasionally proofread at the Ledger and loved to point out errors to the editor. He was a stalwart UM Grizzly fan and was delighted when they beat the MSU Bobcats.
Louie first served as a trustee for the Thompson Falls Public Library from July 1997 to June 2002. As former Library Director Katherine Roberts says, "It is so hard to convey just how important a role Louie played in the development of the library. An example is the move from City Hall. We came up with the plan of purchasing the building in January or February of 2000. To do this we had to run a successful levy campaign to raise the library levy, secure a loan from First Security Bank, find the funds to renovate the building, move the library and renegotiate an interlocal agreement. This was all accomplished in less than a year, as the move was made in December of 2000. A feat that the folks at the State Library said was impossible. None of it would have been accomplished without Louie's support, encouragement and, especially, his expertise. He was always there for the library, literally every day. "
Louie again agreed to serve on the Thompson Falls Public Library Board, when the City Council appointed him to fill the unexpired term of Trustee Mark McGuyer in August of 2012. His knowledge of library law and the history of the Thompson Falls Library has been invaluable to other board members and Lynne Kersten, current Library Director. As a fairly new resident to Sanders County, Kersten says Louis helped educate her on local history and landmarks. "Whenever I had trouble answering local reference questions, Louie was the first person I would go to for answers. If he didn't know the answer, he knew who to ask or where to go to find out. He always said he had a soft spot for libraries, which stemmed from his fond memory of his local library when he was a boy. Growing up, he read every book in his library: after reading all the ones in the children's' sections, the librarian allowed him access to the books in the adult sections because she saw his thirst for knowledge and appreciation for books. We really benefited from his support of this library," noted Kersten.
He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by sisters Jane and Carol LaRock of Gillette, Wyoming; half-brother, Sam LaRock of Missoula; nieces Sara Signorelli of Lompoc, Calif., Celia Connick, of Solvang, Calif., A.J. Barnes of Hardin, nephew Clint Hussey of Gillette and many friends in the community.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 17, at 3 p.m., at the PPL Montana Power Park, on Maiden Lane in Thompson Falls. Please bring your own seating. Parking is available at Ainsworth Field. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Old Jail Museum, P.O. Box 774, Thompson Falls, MT 59873 or the Thompson Falls Public Library, P.O. Box 337, Thompson Falls, MT 59873, both were near and dear to his heart.