Moving trailer memorializes company founder: Gunman in murder–suicide
Vehicle’s message outrages family of slaying victim
By John Byrne Tribune Reporter
August 11, 2009
The message “In memory of Frank Larkin” may not mean a thing to the legions of Northwestern Wildcats football fans who stream past the North Shore Van Lines trailer parked outside Ryan Field on game days.
But for Nancy Striblen, the words are a painful reminder of the man who fatally shot her sister, Dorothy Striblen, then killed himself in 2004 in what authorities called a murder–suicide. Dorothy Striblen and Larkin, who was divorced, had been in a relationship.
Striblen wants Larkin’s name removed from the trailer, which sits outside the stadium as part of the sponsorship deal between the team and the moving company Larkin founded.
“Our family had finally moved on. For us, it’s like she got killed all over again,” said Striblen of Wheeling, who discovered the memorial about eight weeks ago. “It’s a total slap in the face.”
The episode apparently has proven jarring as well for the Larkins.
Somebody recently vandalized Frank Larkin’s former wife’s van with the spray-painted slogan, “In loving memory of Dorothy Striblen,” said her son, Jim Larkin. His mother’s garage was also spray-painted with a profane epithet, he said.
Jim Larkin, who co-owns North Shore Van Lines, said his mother reported the damage to Cook County police. Sheriff’s officials could not confirm the report.
“If somebody was upset, they should have come and talked to me. It’s my company, and the memorial was my decision,” Jim Larkin said. “My mother didn’t have anything to do with it.”
If a member of the Striblen family had called him about the message, Larkin said he would have considered removing it, but not now, given what happened, he said.
“Now I have no desire to do that,” he said.
Nancy Striblen, 37, said she didn’t know anything about the vandalism.
“It could have been anybody,” she said. “So many people are outraged about this.”
The Striblen and Larkin families have known each other for decades, she said.
One of Nancy Striblen’s first jobs after graduating from high school was working for the company, which Frank Larkin founded in 1969.
Frank Larkin, 58, was divorced and in a relationship with Dorothy Striblen, 41, a secretary at the business, when both were found fatally shot in the company’s offices near Northbrook on the night of May 10, 2004. The Cook County medical examiner’s office classified Striblen’s death as a homicide and Larkin’s as a suicide.
Frank Larkin recently had been prescribed anti-depressant medicine, which his son believes played an important role in pushing him to shoot Striblen and himself.
The memorial to his father was painted onto the trailer the next year, Jim Larkin said.
Northwestern University spokesman Chuck Loebbaka said he didn’t know whether the university’s sponsorship agreement with the company would allow the school to order the memorial removed from the trailer, which sits on university property.
Those decisions belong to officials in the athletic department, Loebbaka said.
Michael Wolf, director of media services for the Northwestern athletic department, said this weekend he did not know enough about the situation to comment.
Tribune reporter Georgia Garvey contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune