Longtime KFMB/Channel 8 reporter Larry Himmel has died of cancer, his colleagues announced on their 11 p.m. newscast Wednesday.
It was an emotional half hour, as his co-workers mourned and remembered him leading into news stories and the weather report before they emotionally abandoned the structure of their evening telecast, forgoing the sports segment to talk about Himmel and laugh and grieve and get through it together.
His death at 68 comes 11 months after another local veteran broadcaster, Loren Nancarrow, died from brain cancer. And it comes at a time when San Diego still mourns Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman and Padres great Tony Gwynn, and going further back, Chargers star Junior Seau and KPBS personality Gloria Penner as well as others.
Stung by the sudden news of Himmel's passing, San Diegans took to the Internet as they did for Nancarrow and Coleman and Gwynn to share thoughts and stories about a man who made his presence felt in living rooms countywide for years. His bio on the Channel 8 website begins, "I've managed to live my entire life without having a real job!"
Himmel was a feature reporter for the station since 1979 when he began his "Larry Himmel At Large" commentaries. Those evolved into a staple: "San Diego At Large" with Larry Himmel. In one clip, he had some hilarious and true advice for high school students:
“Just remember, parents don’t know everything,” and “If you set your goals low enough, you’ll always be able to achieve them. That’s important to remember."
Born in Chicago with a master's degree in speech from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., Himmel got his first broadcasting jobs in radio. He wound up at KFMB, but his route there while in San Diego was winding; he bartended in Ocean Beach, did stand up routines at The Comedy Store in La Jolla.
Thirty-five years after Himmel started in San Diego news, what we have left now are his stories. And ours.
He leaves a void and a legacy in local journalism.
What kind of a reporter was he? The kind who would do this.
CBS 8 has set up a page with a video tribute and a guestbook on its website.
It's titled simply:Copyright © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.