Desert Museum Vignettes

A Desert Museum Merv Larson Celebration ‘Walk-Around’

Merv Larson
1930 — 2022

Merv at the Museum in 2019 for a celebration in the Green Room

A Desert Museum Merv Larson Celebration ‘Walk-Around’ — October 27, 2022

Merv Larson, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s (ASDM) former Executive Director and long-time employee, passed away in August, 2022. The love, respect and admiration for Merv was clearly demonstrated at a recent ‘walkaround’ at ASDM in October, 2022, which was attended by a diverse group who enthusiastically celebrated Merv’s vision and accomplishments. Attendees represented a wide range of southern Arizona, national and international interests including the Desert Museum, The Larson Company (or TLC as he liked it to be known), the Alamos/Mexico hotel contingent, Tucson’s ‘plant guys’ and more. The walking tour featured stops at key Museum ‘Merv’ sites including:

The Cave
where we learned about the Cave’s design and its ‘walking timeline’ along with Frank Retes footprint!
Cat Canyon
where we learned about Chuck Hanson’s tricks for tracking ‘escapee cats’ with a ‘flour trail’. And we learned about Peggy Larson’s writing credentials — and her 1966 appearance on ‘To Tell The Truth’.
Bighorn Sheep
where we learned about the introduction of the sheep to the exhibit — and Merv’s dubious AZA ‘Goof of the Year’ award.
Desert Garden
where we learned about Merv’s love of plants from both Arizona and Sonora and his love for the Pinacates.

And we moved into the Octotillo Café for more Merv ‘tales’ and fellowship — plus cookies and lemonade!

The whole group in the Desert Garden
View Photographs from the event
View Videos from the event


Partial List of Attendees:

Jennifer Albers
Lance Angerhofer
Barbara Angerhofer
Mark Berard
Deborah Beggy
Nick Besenick
Steve Brigham
Bill Broyles
Roger Carpenter
Bob Dahl
Sarah Dahl
Cynthia Dowdall
Doris Evans
David Hand
Becky Hicks
Jeremiah Hobby
Craig Ivanyi
Gene Joseph
Liz Kemp
Judy Koehler
Aaron Larson
Betsy Larson
Ché Larson
Lane Larson
Peggy Larson
Ryan Larson
Wanda Larson
Jonquil LeMaster
Michael Lord
Janice McCague
John McCague
Kimberly McDonald
Bob Perrill
Karen Sausman
Anne Warner
Lynnae Wenker
Debbe Wilson
Nick Wilson
John Woodin

Note: If you have Merv ‘memories’ that you’d like to share, please email them to or mail them to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson AZ 85743 — Attention: Merv ‘memories’.

Photos and videos courtesy of Liz Kemp and Betsy Larson.

An older photo of Merv Larson is displayed with his brimmed hat in the Ocotillo Café

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) Oral History Project is designed to chronicle the history of ASDM. The interviews and collected materials provide an opportunity to capture the memories of museum founders, members, staff, and guests; and to share those memories with Tucson and the conservation community at large.

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