NORMAN — “Make yourself comfortable” may well be Larry Eugene Loggins’ way of keeping house.
“Everybody does,” Loggins said. “This is a meeting place for all my friends. We all meet over here. This is one place where we hash out religion, politics and what’s in the paper, mess with one another, play dominoes. We just got finished playing a game, as a matter of fact.”
He said he might have 10-15 people at his home at any time.
“They come, and Deborah (his wife) cooks sometimes and they eat,” Loggins said, adding that sometimes, he fires up the cooker in his backyard for some fixin’s.
It’s a good way for Loggins, 60, to kick back after a busy life.
The Muskogee native said he began preaching at the age of 15. At 17, he left school to join the Navy — right in the closing years of the Vietnam War.
He has worked with handicapped people through INCOR, a service provider for people with disabilities.
As the co-pastor at Little Rose Baptist Church, Loggins has helped minister to people with all sorts of needs.
He also has shared his love of music, singing gospel and the blues.
Loggins now enjoys spending time with his wife and their three dogs.
“There’s Doodle, the poodle. That’s Deborah’s dog. He likes her,” Loggins said. “Valley is my little princess. She doesn’t do anything wrong. Then there’s Zeus. We just got him. He stays outside.”
Larry Eugene Loggins grew up in a religious family and answered a call to preach at 15.
“I was blessed to have a family that was always in church,” he said.
But that call came after an incident that shattered his faith.
“My brother died at 14 years old. His lungs collapsed and his heart stopped beating,” Loggins said, recalling that he was 15 years old at the time. “I had given up on religion. After he died I had nothing to do with the church. I wondered why would God take my brother and leave all the other wrong-doers alive.”
Loggins recalled that shortly after the tragedy, his cousin Lansing Lee invited him to a service at Rayfield Baptist Church.
“I went on my mother’s insistence,” Loggins said. “I was sitting in the pew and I had a Bible and the preacher was preaching. I was saying ‘This was wrong.’ All of a sudden, next thing I knew, I was standing down in front of the church and I said, ‘The Lord called me to preach.’”
Loggins recalled that after a moment of surprise, he felt a warm feeling inside.
He recalled coming back home with the news. He said his grandmother was not surprised.
“My grandmother always said I was going to be a preacher,” he said. “Grandmother said, ‘I knew it because I saw the glow on his face.’”
Returning to school with this newfound faith wasn’t easy.
“When I started preaching, they didn’t want to hang out with me anymore, because I was a preacher and I was at West Junior High School at the time,” he said.
Loggins continued his pastoral journey under the leadership of the Rev. T.L. Turner.
“He was very influential in my preaching career,” Loggins said. “He taught me to be patient, taught me to wait on the Lord. He also taught me to preach the Gospel, no matter what. If I don’t make you mad, then I’m not preaching to you.”
From the pulpit to the military: Loggins’ early church work and school work was interrupted when he was 17 and a junior at Muskogee High School.
At the time, he was married to an older woman who also was a teacher.
“I went into the service because I wanted to provide a good home for her,” he recalled. “I couldn’t support her in high school.”
Loggins joined the Navy, where he spent “four glorious years.”
This was 1972, when the Vietnam War was still raging. Loggins was assigned to the USS Blakely, which went to Vietnam.
“It was a destroyer escort,” Loggins recalled. “We’d pull up in front of an aircraft carrier when there was a missile. It’s better to lose 350 people (on the escort) than 2,500 (on the aircraft carrier). Our job was to come in front of it and absorb the torpedo.”
Loggins said he asked for a transfer once he found out what his assignment was. He said he was then assigned to a guided missile cruiser.
“I went straight from the skillet to the fire,” he said.
After coming home from the Navy after the war, he served six years as a combat medic with the National Guard.
“I was always into medicine because my mother was a nurse, so I knew medicine,” he said. “It was fascinating to me. We were doing field training exercises, and they asked me if I wanted to be a combat medic. If your guts are hanging out, I get them, stuff them in there, tape them up, hook up an IV until they can come get you and take you to triage.”
He later joined the Army Reserve. He recalled a short stint, serving in Desert Storm with the 827th Supply Company.
He served as a chaplain and a mess cook until 1999.
Family feels the music: Loggins recalled growing up in a musical family. He said his mother used to sing with rock pioneer Bo Diddley in the 1960s.
He found an outlet for his singing while attending Connors State College in the late 1970s. He said he started Connors as a speech and drama major.
“I joined New Horizons, a band that was used for promotional purposes,” Loggins said, recalling that he was chosen as a lead singer after auditioning. He recalled singing some blues songs, some religious songs, some songs that were in the Top 40 at the time.
“We’d play at the Sheraton Skyline East, on the Betty Boyd Show (a popular Tulsa TV show at the time), the March of Dimes Telethon,” he recalled.
The band also opened for B.J. Thomas when the “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” singer performed at the Muskogee Civic Center.
Loggins now enjoys singing blues music at karaoke and gospel music at church. He can break out into either type of song at a moment’s notice.
He said he sees no difference between blues and gospel.
“You’ve got to feel it,” he said. “In gospel, you’ve got to feel the spirit in the music. In blues, you’ve got to visualize what you sing. You’ve got to be in the moment.”
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