Longtime Grosse Pointe resident and renowned auctioneer-appraiser Lawrence F. DuMouchelle died Thursday, May 16, 2019, after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 84 years old.
Larry was born in Detroit to art dealer Joseph N. DuMouchelle and his wife Charlotte LePain, and lived above the family store on St. Aubin, later moving to the Boston-Edison District where he spent much of his youth. The oldest of five children, he attended Blessed Sacrament, the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and the University of Detroit, where he served in the ROTC.
As a young boy, Larry spoke French before he spoke English and enjoyed spending summers with his grandparents and cousins at the family farms in Windsor — fondly recounting stories of selling vegetables door to door.
Larry was introduced to his family’s business, DuMouchelle Art Galleries, at a young age as an apprentice at eleven years old. His first experience as an auctioneer was at the age of sixteen when his father had him stand on a crate at an estate sale selling floor lamps. Although Larry had hoped to study accounting and law at Notre Dame, he was needed at home to assist with running the family business — as his father had become terminally ill.
In 1956, Larry proposed to and married his St. Mary’s of Notre Dame sweetheart, Mary Jo McCarthy — whom he met on a blind date while he was at U of D and she at Immaculata. She was the love of his life and most trusted advisor.
In March of 1957, Joseph DuMouchelle passed away. Larry, then 22, took over the family business and became President, a position he held until his death. Over the next several years, Larry worked diligently to maintain the confidence and clientele that had been associated with his father.
Larry always believed in Detroit. Although economic downturns and urban unrest resulted in several difficult transitional years, Larry refused to move the company. He began to modernize and expand the scope of the operation.
Major art collections drew record auction prices and an international clientele developed. But local customer support was always key to DuMouchelle’s sustainability. True expansion and recognition began in the early 1970s when the firm began to handle many prominent auto and lumber estates, as well as those of international political and business figures. Larry always felt it an honor and privilege to be entrusted to handle any family’s estate.
Larry contributed his time to many organizations and served on the board of trustees for the Detroit Institute of Arts, Meadow Brook Arts Commission, the Central Business District Association, University of Detroit High School, and served as President of the DIA Founder’s Society — as well as the President of St. Paul on the Lake Parish Council. Over the years, he received numerous business awards, but one that was close to his heart was the University of Detroit High School businessman of the year. Larry, who was described by many as the “Gentlemanly Auctioneer” also enjoyed his many trips around the country as an appraiser for The Antiques Roadshow.
Larry was instrumental in forming Bricktown in Detroit. This sparked his interest in real estate, where he began his investments in Detroit properties, including several historic homes and buildings. He purchased the Joseph Campeau and Trowbridge homes, listed as some of the oldest homes in Detroit.
Throughout his life, Larry believed in helping others. In his line of work, he was able to raise funds for thousands of charitable organizations, foundations and schools, including auctions for the American Red Cross, Easter Seals, the Metropolitan Opera, 1986 Statue of Liberty Gala, Hats Off to Heart Research, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Public Library, DIA Founder’s Society, Grand Prix Auction for Project Hope, Common Ground, Academy of the Sacred Heart, Meadowbrook Estate, University of Detroit, Cranbrook Academy, Kensington Academy, St. Mary’s Academy, Northwood Institute, Women’s City Club, Channel 56, Tennis & Crumpets, Grosse Pointe Symphony, Michigan Ducks Unlimited and was instrumental in developing the Action Auction for the Grosse Pointe Academy, which became recognized as the model of excellence for fundraising auctions.
Larry was a 53-year member of the Detroit Athletic Club. He was a tennis enthusiast for over 54 years and forged many lifelong friendships competing at Lochmoor Club, Wimbledon Racquet Club, L’Arbre Croche and with his friends from the Grosse Pointe Senior Men’s Club. In later years, he joined the Neighborhood Club, where he enthusiastically worked out each week with his dedicated trainer.
Larry was a devoted Detroit Tigers fan and never missed a game. He enjoyed long walks and barbeques at the Farms Pier Park, trips up north and to Sanibel Island and always looked forward to reunions at the family cottage in Windsor, which he helped his grandfather build at a young age.
Larry was pleased to be a part of Detroit’s comeback, helping to maintain his father’s legacy downtown as a Detroit anchor for over 93 years. He came through the many years with his partners and siblings, Joan Walker, Norman, Rosemary and Ernest DuMouchelle, his children and now grandchildren and his much-valued, dedicated employees.
Larry was predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Mary Jo McCarthy DuMouchelle. He is survived by his loving siblings, sister-in-law, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Visitation will take place 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at Chas. Verheyden Funeral Home, 16300 Mack, Grosse Pointe Park, with prayers at 7 p.m.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday, May 31, at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, 157 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms with in-state at 9:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen; St. Paul Educational Trust, Grosse Pointe; University of Detroit Jesuit High School Scholarship Fund; or Beaumont Hospital Foundation, Grosse Pointe.