Larry Cose dies at 68; former Sun-Times reporter, financial adviser’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis led to creation of nonprofit to help younger patients with the disease
“You talked to him for even a few minutes, [and] you had nothing but warmth toward him,” said his brother, journalist Ellis Cose, an author and former Sun-Times columnist.
Larry Cose’s gentle, friendly nature made people open up to him when he was a Sun-Times reporter and helped build trust when he started a new career as a financial adviser.
Later in life, he programmed his phone to softly ping a few times a day. When his wife asked him why, she said he told her: “That’s to forgive — to forgive self, others and the world — and start again.”
“That’s the kind of goodness he brought to the world,” said Diana Shulla Cose.
At 62, when he learned he had Alzheimer’s disease, he faced his diagnosis with courage and concern about their sons Justin and Lucas. “It was all about the boys,” she said.
Mr. Cose, of Evanston, died Aug. 2 of complications from the disease. He was 68.
His diagnosis led his wife to found Lorenzo’s House, from a nickname she gave to him. The nonprofit organization is working to help patients with young-onset Alzheimer’s and their families.
Young Larry grew up on the West Side, where his family lived in the Henry Horner Homes. His father Raney Cose, who was from Louisiana, worked in a laundry. His mother Jetta was from West Point, Mississippi. By age 11, he had a paper route. He liked spending time at the Henry Horner Boys & Girls Club.
“He was just a lot of fun. He was full of jokes,” said his sister LaVerne Cose.
“He was extremely congenial. You talked to him for even a few minutes, [and] you had nothing but warmth toward him,” said his brother, journalist Ellis Cose, an author and former Sun-Times columnist. “He was very bright and opportunities came his way. He had a lot of initiative.”
Later, the Cose family moved to South Shore. He attended Crane High School before graduating from South Shore High School and later Roosevelt University.
In the mid-1970s he started working as an editorial assistant at the Sun-Times, where he was tapped to do reporting.
Mr. Cose covered the theft of mail from Bears legend Walter Payton, a drug raid that turned up boa constrictors, and the 1984 Victory tour by Michael Jackson and his brothers. He also helped report on gangland executions, the rise of AIDS, and funding challenges for schools, the former Cook County Hospital and a new main city library. He wrote about the exhumation of George Halas Jr. to investigate his cause of death in a family estate feud.
He shared in the journalism awards for a 1980 Sun-Times-WLS TV series, “The Accident Swindlers.” It exposed how unscrupulous doctors, lawyers and patients schemed to fake car crash injuries to get insurance money. At one point, Mr. Cose, who posed undercover as an accident victim, was encouraged by a lawyer to lie about his “injury.”
He was told: “What’s needed are pains in your head, neck and back. … To go into the hospital, you’ve got to really complain. Don’t be a macho man.”
Mr. Cose enjoyed covering Mayor Harold Washington, the city’s first Black mayor. “He would talk about that with the boys,” their mother said. “It was always about asking questions at the dinner table to get them thinking.”
In 1989, the year he left the Sun-Times, he met his future wife at the Kingston Mines blues club.
He went on to work at Illinois Bell and Ameritech and earned an MBA from Northwestern University. He joined Smith Barney wealth management and later became a certified financial planner and opened his own firm, Cose Financial.
In his younger days, he drove a black and gold Trans Am. He enjoyed Macallan Scotch, movies and music “from Miles Davis to Elton John and Jay-Z to ‘Casablanca’ and ‘In the Heights,’” his wife said. “Most of all, he loved being home with our boys and me. Oh, did he ever adore his sons. He was deeply involved in every part of their lives.”
In addition to his wife, sons, brother and sister, Mr. Cose is survived by another brother, Robert. A celebration of his life is being planned.