To steal a line from the his recent Buffalo News obituary, "Everyone knew when Larry Levite entered a room, with his booming voice and infectious, loud laugh.”
Close to twenty years ago, I met Larry as we were both entering the world of city and regional magazines for the first time. For me, it was from newspapers, but for Larry and his then-business partner, it was from radio.
Larry, with his scruffy beard, longish hair, and radio jargon, seemed straight from the cast of the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Later in life, when he proudly talked about his motorcycle and newly acquired tattoos, it seemed closer to what Redford and Fonda might have become years after Easy Rider.
Larry took a quarterly magazine in Buffalo and built it into a formidable western New York publishing juggernaut, increasing frequency and eventually producing 32 different titles, events, and theatre programs throughout the region.
When Larry was in attendance at a CRMA event, you didn’t need visible confirmation. He was no shrinking violet; he often asked challenging questions, perhaps with a colorful pun followed by his larger than life, infectious laugh as an exclamation point.
He was passionate about connecting with people — his employees, his peers, his customers, and his community. He preached writing handwritten notes, abhorred sending emails, and, many — myself included — have The Art of the Handwritten Note tome on our bookcases as a direct result of Larry Levite.
When he did send you an email, the signature was large and written in cursive: “Larry." Even when he submitted ideas for our “best ideas” compilations from each session, it was often written by hand, on lined paper, by the man himself.
Larry’s passing last Wednesday, on his 77th birthday, “gave us comfort” his wife and constant companion at CRMA functions, Sharon, said of the coincidence.
In just a few weeks, the city and regional magazines will gather in Houston for our annual convention. Larry Levite’s laugh may not be heard in the room, but his spirt, perseverance, and good soul will resonate on through all the friends who will fondly remember him.
Friend. Advocate. Self-proclaimed ‘Chairman of Fun.’ We’ll miss you Larry Levite. Thank you for your friendship & support here at the Shaw ♥ pic.twitter.com/RIb09JG6NI
— Shaw Festival (@ShawTheatre) April 27, 2017
— Jared Mobarak (@jaredmobarak) April 27, 2017
— Rob Lucas (@RobLucas2) April 27, 2017
— Claudine Ewing (@ClaudineWgrz) April 27, 2017
Saddened to learn of Larry Levite's death. Ch.4 & his WBEN radio shared same building for many years. And we shared many smiles. pic.twitter.com/NFdHTmOTkF
— Jacquie Walker (@jacquiewalker4) April 27, 2017
RIP to our comrade in print, Larry Levite.
— The Public (@PublicBFLO) April 27, 2017