Cover photo for Lawrence Edward Bivens's Obituary
Lawrence Edward Bivens Profile Photo
1950 Lawrence 2017

Lawrence Edward Bivens

August 8, 1950 — August 31, 2017

On August 31, 2017, Lawrence Edward Bivens, husband, father, son, brother, uncle, best friend, war hero, chef, adventurer, teller of bad dad jokes, and lover of life passed away unexpectedly. Known by his children (and grandchildren, and great grandchildren) as 'Pop' and to everyone else as 'Larry', he was a beloved friend to all he met.

Born August 8, 1950 in Chico, California, the middle son of Tom and Mary Joy Bivens. Raised with his two brothers, Thomas and Michael, they grew up in the Sacramento region, an area which he called home.

At the age of 17, Larry joined the Army to become a cook. The Army had different plans, and immediately sent him to Korea, before he began a 13-month tour in Vietnam during which time he was awarded the Bronze Star for saving a man's life. His time with the armed services, in particular during his tour in Vietnam, left a profound effect on him, one which he battled for the rest of his life. He always said that he felt he never really left that place – home close to 50 years or so, yet he always felt as if he was just stepping off the plane.

Larry lived all over the country, but was in love with the West Coast, mostly living in his home state of California. He loved animals, always having at least a faithful dog at his side – and that time he had a cat fish living in his bath tub because it wouldn't die and he couldn't kill it, or the time he worked at Folsom Prison and they gave him a turkey for the holidays. A live turkey. It was pardoned and lived out its days happily because Larry was an animal lover.

He had a passion for music. To him, every song was a snapshot in his life, and he could (and often would!) tell a story about it. One of his favorites, obviously shaped by his life experiences was Country Joe McDonald's song about Vietnam, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin to Die Rag".

Larry loved school and held a degree in marketing and business, but his real passion was cooking. He was head chef at many high-end restaurants, even helping to open several of them. He was incredibly proud to have cooked for one of his favorite directors, Frank Capra, and one of his favorite bands, Supertramp. He loved people, and for him, cooking was a way of connecting with them.

He was very proud of what is known as the Bivens Frown. He had a saying for everything, and we already miss his corny and sometimes profound words. He always dreamed of turning his collection of crass and witty aphorisms and proverbs into a book, "The Wit and Wisdom of Larry Bivens". Needless to say, it would have a warning for adult language on the cover. He had a wicked sense of humor, charm to spare, and was sharp as a whip; he was never one to be at a loss for words. He always said that he should have probably been more and probably would have if it hadn't been for that damn Vietnam War.

Despite his struggles and battles with posttraumatic stress disorder, he never stopped laughing. His favorite movies were those of Steve Martin, and he made it a point to teach each of his children his favorite humorous (and sometimes inappropriate) songs and jokes while they were young (often at the protest of their mothers).
Few people have lived as much as Larry. Many have lived longer, but few as full. For sheer amount of experiences, for trials met and overcome, for number of people known, he was a rare breed. He loved life and had many lifetimes, some of which he led very hard. He traveled to many countries, and never slowed down. He was married four times, and had a total of 19 children – none were step children or adopted children or the children of his wives - they were all his and he loved them equally. He had his fair share of demons, his share of struggles. But, no matter how dark it got, no matter how bleak or low, he always did the best he could with what he had. He always picked himself up, and he always tried again. And always with a joke to tell.

In the end, he won. He never allowed the darkness to fully consume him. He passed at peace with himself, and with the world around him. And full of love for all his family. He is greatly and profoundly missed.

Larry is survived by his beloved wife Susan Smeja-Bivens, and his children: Tim Fultz (Timbo), Peggy Quinlivan (Marie) (spouse Derek Murphy), Mary Jaynes (Murph) (spouse Tony Jaynes), John Bivens (Johnny) (partner Nadia White), Meganne Taylor (Rosebud) (spouse Tim Walters) , Christopher Bivens (Bug), Nicole Wik (spouse Osten Wik), Rachel Smeja, Robert Smeja (spouse Elaina Smeja), Justin Smeja, Nicole Smeja, Andrew Smjea, Kadie Smeja, Emily Smeja, Jared Smeja, Jason Smeja, Dillon Smeja, and David Smeja;

Grandchildren: Amanda Fuentes, Jacob Quinlivan, Michael Quinlivan, Tina Fultz, Corry Jaynes, Tyler Jaynes, Damien Wik, Anastaia Smjea, Lilianna and Analise Smeja, Payton and Easton Smjea, Damien, Chace, Will and Camden Walters;

Great Grandchildren: Gabriel Fuentes, Skylar Foley;

Brother Michael Bivens and Sister In-law Debbie Bivens;

Nieces and Nephews: Angela Piper, Thomas Bivens, Lisa Draper, Michael Bivens, and Jennifer Bivens.

He was preceded in death by his parents Tom and Mary Joy Bivens and brother Thomas Bivens and Sister In-law Louise Bivens and daughter, Abigail Smeja who died May 26, 2017. He never stopped grieving Abigail's passing, but her daughter Anastaia helped to fill his days with sunshine.

Services will be held Saturday, September 16, 2017, 7pm at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, Roseville, CA.
"Into the atmosphere of gloom and despair, day breaks, light emerges, flooding the grim meadow of misery with hope and promise" – Maya Angelou wrote it, but 'Pop' believed it and lived it.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lawrence Edward Bivens, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Starts at 7:00 pm

Tabernacle Baptist Church

301 W Whyte Ave, Roseville, CA 95678

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