Larry & Denny: A friend steps forward

  • Article by: GAIL ROSENBLUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2012 - 1:01 PM

Larry Rolf and Denny Daniels are best friends and “ex-husbands-in-law,” united forever by a special woman.

Larry Rolf, right, and Denny Daniels are best friends and “ex-husbands-in-law.” They explored the Mall of America’s rope climbing attraction.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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Larry Rolf and Denny Daniels have the Flying Dutchman Ghostly Gangplank pretty much to themselves on a recent Friday morning, which is a good thing. With Larry leading, the pair are proving to be a handful for the young Mall of America employee, her neck angled upward to keep track of them.

"No horseplay up there," she says.

It's a fitting venue for Larry, 65, and Denny, 70.

When Denny's wife, Sharon, died of lung cancer last year, Larry was his safety net -- a best friend who understood intimately the depth of Denny's loss. Larry also was married to Sharon, years before.

"Without Larry and the kids, I couldn't have made it," said Denny, retired from the Postal Service. "Sharon was a very special lady. She made all this possible."

Larry, who is retired from Metro Transit, married Sharon young. They divorced amicably. He has been married since 1977 to Teresa Rolf, with whom he helps run Northland School of Dance in Champlin.

Denny and Sharon were neighbors for years before he asked her out to celebrate his second marathon in 1990. Things went well, so he asked: "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?"

"Going over to Larry and Teresa's," she said.

"Your ex and his wife?" Denny said. "I'll give it an hour."

The men, both runners, hit it off immediately.

The families still celebrate holidays together. Sharon made Christmas stockings for Teresa's kids.

"Since Sharon passed, we talk almost every day," Larry said.

They also bike, test-drive cars and traveled together to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"Larry is more like a brother than a friend," Denny said. "I've always called him my ex-husband-in-law."

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