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Silver and his wife, Patty, with sons (l-r) Michael and Brian.
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Larry Silver: Six degrees of separation

"Six degrees of separation" is the theory that everyone is six or fewer steps away from any other person in the world. In North Dakota, by nature of its small population, a connection to each other is a given. Born in Queens, N.Y., Larry Silver is an East Coast kid whose link to Minot State was only a phone call away.

Silver was a wrestler in high school on Long Island, N.Y. in the mid-1960s. He knew of two former teammates, Alan Allstadt and Willie McCullum, who had left Long Island a year or two earlier to attend a small school in the Midwest. When Silver was offered a scholarship from MSC wrestling coach Hank Hettwer, he knew his chance to attend college had arrived.

"I'd lived on Long Island my entire life and had never been more than 25 miles away from home before coming to Minot State," he said in a telephone interview. "My family and friends thought I was going to "Minnaught," and that I was crazy. But I wanted to go to college and it was a school that I could afford and it was one of the best decisions of my life."

Silver remembers arriving in Minot as if it was yesterday. He flew into town around 11 p.m., got off the plane, looked around and thought, "Oh, my god, what have I done?" Minot did not remotely resemble Long Island. "Talk about culture shock," he said.

Larry wrestled for three years and joined the Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, and forged a common bond with "50 or 60" guys who have remained lifelong friends. He also met his wife, Patty (Lill) from New Rockford, N.D. at MSU.

After graduating in 1970, Silver returned to New York where he taught at P.S. 125 in Manhattan. In 1972, he joined the U.S. Army and spent three years in the infantry and one year in Vietnam. After the service, the Silvers decided to raise their family in Colorado.

Silver's business career began in Denver at a fledgling health maintenance organization called Comprecare. HMOs were a new health insurance option, just getting off the ground nationwide. With two business partners in 1979, Larry started and grew Peak Health Care, Inc. into a successful, multi-state, for-profit HMO. In 1986, United Health Group purchased Peak Health.

Silver retired in 1987 and lives in Arizona. Besides enjoying golf, he and Patty like to travel and visit their sons, who, ironically, live in New York.

"Minot was a great experience for me," he reflected. "People in North Dakota are the salt of the earth and have an honest way of looking at things. It was the first time I was exposed to that."

To read this entire story or others like it, visit www.minotstateu.edu/alumni/pdf/2013_connections_winter.pdf