Hutton Marshall | Uptown Editor
On Friday, June 27, we lost Dale Larabee, a proud husband, father, lawyer, and among many other titles, a friend. He wrote the popular, funny, and often polarizing column, “Larabee’s Lowdown” for Uptown News.
His death followed an accident outside of his home in Kensington, a quiet community Dale called home for the past 41 years. I only met the man twice, neither occasion was for as long as I would like. Once he was with his wife, Diane, the other he was on his bicycle. From what I’ve gathered from editing his work, those two engulfed much of his life. Regardless, I felt closer to him than most other writers during our constant written interactions over the last nine months.
Dale was not a journalist. At least that’s what he would insist when I inquired whether he owned a recording device for interviews, how he planned to source information for his next column, or any other attempt to question the murky creative process of Dale Larabee. But he had the qualities that truly mattered in journalism: a stubborn insistence on honesty and compassion for the community he wrote about.
During his time as a Kensington-centric columnist for Uptown News, he would spontaneously pursue anything that caught his eye. From newsy happenings like the near-death of The Ken Cinema, to subjects only Dale could turn into a story, like when he stopped a young, scantily clad runner he often spotted on mornings to learn about her life.
Dale, admittedly, was not an easy edit. “Off the cuff” was how many described it, but that makes him sound lazy or careless. Sure, he wrote a little too similar to how he spoke, quick and a little crass, but I found in my attempts to correct his phrasing, I couldn’t replicate the blunt, hilarious sensitivity he conveyed.
Certain themes were always apparent in his writing. I was regularly impressed at the creative acrobatics he would employ in order to work his sons, Jeff and Joel, and his wife Diane into his columns that had absolutely nothing to do with any of them. I think his insistence to mention them as often as possible, done perhaps subconsciously, revealed how deeply his family was rooted into his every thought and action.
Dale, as many know, was a mountain of accomplishment both professionally and personally. That’s why when he would jokingly refer to me as “Boss” as we bounced column ideas back and forth, it was a subtle reminder of his good-humored humility that defined his interactions with others.
To the right is the last column Dale wrote, which he submitted shortly before his accident. Like many others, it blends his compassion for his neighborhood with a talent for teetering masterfully on the line of vulgarity — a skill that, as you can see, transferred well to his headlines.
Rest in peace, Dale. This newspaper — and the community it covers — has a lot less life in it without you.