WSI  ENews...Serving Hunters' and Landowners' Needs Since 1987

So Long To a Great Friend and Mentor
By Greg Simons

Dick Laros was a great family man, 
a man of integrity, and successful business man. He will be 
missed dearly by many.
It began with a phone call to Ben Calloway in 1988, who was the outdoor columnist for the Philadelphia Enquirer. "Hello Ben, my name is Greg Simons. I'm in the hunting business and I'm trying to figure out how to access the hunting market in Pennsylvania." Ben gave me the name of a free-lance outdoor writer, a booking agent, and a taxidermist. Yes, I know, it sounds like an Aggie joke. I called the writer and offered him a free hunt if he could get me some press in that area, and he lectured me about it not being ethical for me to offer such a deal...strike one. I called the booking agent and he informed me that he does not book hunts for anyone he's not familiar with...strike two. I called the taxidermist and find a warm voice on the other end of the phone and he told me that he had always wanted to hunt in Texas and he would be happy to assemble a group to come with him...home run. And so began an amazing journey and a special relationship that lasted over 25 years.
Dick Laros was undoubtedly more instrumental in helping to shape the formative stages of my career and this company, than anyone else. Dick's wealth of knowledge of the hunting business was vast. His integrity was impeccable. His sense of humor was infectious. And his willingness to invest in those around him was generous. He was the consummate, prototypical mentor that a young entrepreneur, like me, needed at that time. And to say that I was like a sponge in water would be an understatement.

Dick and Norma were inseparable and traveled around the globe on many different hunting excursions.

Over the years, Dick and his lovely wife, Norma, hunted with WSI on almost 50 occasions and I personally guided them on all but about 5 of those hunts. We enjoyed many memorable experiences together. I guided them on hunts for whitetails, mule deer, elk, turkeys, predators, and various exotics over the years. I spent 18 days with them in Zimbabwe on safari and touring the country. I could write an entire book on the tales we made together. We wrote and recorded a song on Old Elmo, the giant mule deer that he shot. There was Tommy the Turkey, Tyson the Whitetail, and a plethora of other unique stories that followed our hunts.
Dick was one of the most respected taxidermists in the country at one time, with his office located in Allentown, PA. He was a reputable booking agent who many clients placed their trust and he arranged for hunting excursions around the globe. Dick owned and operated the Lehigh Valley Outdoor Expo which was a great show with a tenure of 33 years...I exhibited at the show for 17 consecutive years and those were some fun times that I greatly cherish. Gosh, we laughed so much and had such great fun when the show was going on. There were practical jokes that were played, hunting stories that were re-hashed, and my tutorial of learning from this gentleman was always in session.
I'm so thankful that I had the great fortune to get to know Dick Laros. He was truly a special friend, a mentor, and he was a father figure in some ways. I seriously doubt that WSI would still be in existence today if it were not for Dick's contributions to our company. And, in fact, I'd likely be in a different industry altogether if it were not for his impact on my personal achievements and helping to shape my business acumen. I regularly quote Dick at our WSI Staff In-Service Meeting each year, I share some of his philosophies during presentations that I give on various topics around the state, and I try to mimic the virtues that characterized who he was and what he stood for. His fingerprints will forever be sprinkled about the various features of this company and me as an individual. In the words of Isaac Newton, "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Dick Laros will forever remain one of my giants!

Dick & Greg posing with Old Elmo, taken back in 1992. 
They wrote and recorded a song about the hunt.

Until we meet again, my dear friend, I'll think of you often and I'll always cherish the great memories that we made together. I am forever grateful and indebted to you for all the kind things that you did for me.
For those of you who happen to know Dick, his funeral services are tomorrow (February 1) in Schnecksville, PA at Heintzelman Funeral Home. Viewing is from 1:00-2:30 with services following at 2:30. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.


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Serving Hunters' and Landowners' Needs Since 1987

January 31, 2016
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