The late Robert M. Lee bestowed upon him the apropos nickname of "The Professor", and it fit perfectly since Larry looked, talked,
dressed, and acted like a tenured professor from a major Ivy League college. Many people upon meeting Larry for the first time were
taken back by his appearance and demeanor, mainly because he didn't fit their particular stereotype of a gun collector, dealer, or
writer. When meeting new people, Larry always quickly diffused any preconceived notions of him by utilizing his vast knowledge on an
almost endless variety of subjects coupled with being an adventurous world-class traveler. How many times did I watch Larry Wilson enter a new
conversation and within no more than three sentences, The Professor could "tunnel" into with his new acquaintance and find some common
interest/bond between them plus establish a quick geographical tie-in as well. This immediately made these first time listeners feel
at ease/comfortable and opened them up for the serious dialogue that always followed. Larry deserves major accolades for that kind of amazing
"immediate/direct hookup" for many of his critical contacts he met in this manner. Equally noteworthy was his seemingly computer-assisted
memory recall that was capable of pulling up most of the info/intel from decades old conversations, and in many cases, even minute details and
interesting anecdotes. This perhaps fascinated me more than any other thing when now remembering Mr. Wilson.
Larry was even capable of inventing new words that seemed to define the person/subject better than what's in Websters. A couple of "Larryisms" include "Demorats", his take on members of the Democratic Party, and "Hitlery", his perfect pseudonym for Mrs. Clinton! One last trait of The Professor – even though he despised the New York Times, he read it religiously everyday to find out what the “Demorats” might be doing to dismantle the 2nd Amendment, and as such, became a beacon for the rest of us.
Photo by Christopher T. Wilson
In 1982, I took over the Blue Book of Gun Values, which at the time, was only in its 2nd edition, and struggling. The following year,
I needed to go out to Las Vegas for both the SHOT and Antique Arms Shows to get up-to-date information and prices on not only new guns,
but also older manufacture and antiques. This is when I met R.L. Wilson for the first time - at the Antique Arms Show at the Old Sahara Hotel.
He was standing up behind his tables wearing his trademark garb with his typical spread of high quality books, and he was exactly what
I expected. We hit it off immediately and our professional relationship continued to blossom from that point.
Larry's Magnum Opus was The Book of Colt Firearms, originally published in 1971 and to this day, easily remains the best and most important
firearms book ever published. With over 1 million words of text, every one typed in by Larry on an IBM Selectric typewriter. It was referred
to as the "Sutherland book" for years, but as Larry accurately pointed out in his introduction to the 2nd edition, "Sutherland wrote the checks,
and I wrote the book".
The article continues in Part III