Nearly every day for the last three years, a few Ohio State employees received an e-mail filled with encouragement and religious writings from building services manager Larry Wallington, who had worked as a janitor in their office in the Fisher College of Business.
Those stories, reflections and Bible verses helped their recipients through the rough patches in their personal lives.
“It seemed like they came at the right time,” said Jackie McClure, an administrative associate in the Fisher College of Business.
“They talked about daily living, doing for others, giving of yourself,” said Jackie Grueser, an office manager in the OSU Medical Center who previously worked in the Fisher College of Business.
The last e-mail Grueser received from Wallington came on Friday. Sadly, there will be no more to follow.
Wallington, 48, was shot and killed by custodial employee Nathaniel Brown, 51, at the OSU Maintenance Building at about 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Police said that the shooting was “work related.”
Wallington, whom friends describe as a gentle, friendly man who did not like confrontation, had mentioned trouble at his job, said Laurie Spadaro, the assistant to the department chair in Management Sciences at the Fisher College of Business.
“He just said some of his people didn’t do the job that he thought they should be doing, or as good as they should be doing. That’s about all he would say,” Spadaro said. “He took a lot of pride in his job and everything was done to the best of his ability, and he expected everybody else to be the same way, and apparently, an employee was not that way.”
Brown had recently received a poor performance review, police said. Documents show that Brown was told March 2 that he would be fired.
When he arrived at the Maintenance Building, Brown specifically asked for Wallington, who was his supervisor, a source told The Lantern. Brown found Wallington, who tried to flee.
Brown shot Wallington, and accidentally wounded another supervisor, Henry Butler, 60, who was in stable condition at the OSU Medical Center Tuesday. Brown then shot himself and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Wallington’s death stunned his friends at OSU.
“I was really shocked about what happened to him given his disposition and the way he is with people. He wouldn’t harm anyone,” said W.C. Benton, a professor in the Fisher College of Business. “I’m just totally paralyzed today after getting up and hearing about this.”
Friends describe Wallington as a man who was devoted to his family.
“He was very serious about his family and did everything he could do to support them,” Benton said. Wallington, who worked for OSU for about 10 years, left the Fisher College of Business to work as a building services manager in order to make more money, said Benton, who wrote one of Wallington’s letters of recommendation for the job.
Wallington and his wife have three grown children — two sons and a daughter — and one grandson, Spadaro said.
“When his daughter gave birth to a grandson, he came to my office and was just beaming, so proud,” Grueser said.
Friends say that Wallington’s wife and sister-in-law are ministers in Columbus.
“He was a big church guy, and I think that was the reason his behavior was so gentle, because of the spirituality that he had,” Benton said.
Wallington displayed his enthusiasm for his family and his faith in a number of ways, one of which was cooking.
A tall, slender man — Benton places his height at about 6-feet-5-inches — Wallington was a gentle giant whose passions included barbecue.
“He was a thin, tall man and would eat a ton of food,” Spadaro said. “Every weekend he’d make huge barbecues for his whole family, people at his church.”
Wallington was a good cook, and would bring barbecue into the office for his friends to try, she said.
“[Wallington was] the nicest person ever. He was one of those people that just asked about your family, and then he would remember,” Spadaro said.
It’s evident that Wallington cared about his friends. Grueser remembers him coming in to the Fisher College of Business office at 6 a.m. to turn the heaters on before the work day started if the office was too cold in the winter.
Wallington also helped his friends through his constant smile and positive disposition.
“I never saw him down on anything,” Benton said. “If I was stressed out or having a tough day, it was nothing compared to how he was always positive.”
Along with his cooking, his work and his attitude, Wallington was known for his e-mails, which he called “Encouragement for Today.”
“If you were having a tough time, he’d give you verses that you could read. He just really cared about people,” Spadaro said.
Wallington helped even if he didn’t know his friends were struggling.
“Through e-mails he sent to people on his personal time after he got off work, he was an encouragement and he didn’t even know the issues that I was going through,” Jackie McClure said. I think God used him to reach other people.”
Grueser said that she would save Wallington’s messages and pass them on to friends at her church.
“Not seeing his e-mails come my way is going to be very much of a void. I’ll never forget him, he’s left a big impact on my life,” she said.