Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gruff, but caring

Gruff but caring encapsulates my (like probably most ‘Prince’ alums’) sentiments of Larry. When I learned of his passing, two recollections surfaced.

The first (gruff): Having completed my term as editorial chairman (punctuated by Larry’s alternative complaints that our editorials were too liberal and my hair too long), I spent the next several weeks closeted in Firestone trying to make up for lost ground on my thesis.s

After some progress, I decided one afternoon to return to the ‘Prince’ to see how the new board was faring and to visit with Larry and Brenda (Brenda was a saint, often stepping in to resolve issues between Larry and almost equally head-strong editors; one night Larry made good on his proverbial threat not to lay in one of our editorials; Brenda said not to worry she would — and did — set it).

Arriving at the ‘Prince,’ I found myself amidst a sit-in; if memory serves, the students were protesting the new board’s coverage of their divestment in South Africa campaign. Threading my way upstairs, Larry saw me and apparently surmised that I was with the protestors. Approaching me, he demanded how I could be part of the sit-in, disrupting the operation of the newspaper.

Initially taken aback, I explained I had come to visit Brenda and him, and had no knowledge of the protest. I suggested that because of our board’s prior dealings with the divestment group, I might be able to assist. Without missing a beat (or with any apology), he barked, “Do it, and clear out my building so we can get the paper out.”

The second (caring): I attended the ‘Prince’ barbecue at last year’s Reunions. Although an off- year for the class of ’78, my oldest child, Zack, was to be an incoming freshman and wanted to experience Reunions. I introduced him to Larry, who, while making his standard deprecatory remarks about lawyers and commenting on my receding hairline, actually expressed warm sentiments.

The best part of the afternoon, though, was the public reading of excerpts about Larry from James Axtell’s "The Making of Princeton University." Larry actually seemed touched by the description of “the ‘Larry DuPraz School of Journalism,’ ” the reference to “Professor DuPraz,” and, lastly, to the applause of the assembled group. We didn’t know it then, but it was a most fitting way to say good- bye.

— Alan Klinger ’78, editorial chairman emeritus


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