Remembering Larry DuPraz

A friend sent me a long-expected obituary from The Daily Princetonian, where I was Chairman (what we called the editor-in-chief) 29 years ago: “Larry DuPraz, the beloved flat-topped, cigar-chomping curmudgeon whose critical eye refined six decades of journalism at The Daily Princetonian, died Christmas Eve morning in Massachusetts. He was 87 and suffered from heart disease.

When I joined the Prince in 1974, Larry had already been on the paper for 28 years. He was incredibly irascible and he just about defined curmudgeon. But he, far more than any of the paper’s editors, was the guardian of standards for the Prince. If you worked on the nighttime production crew, which we all did on a regular rotation, you had to put up with Larry’s endless belittling of your talents. “You guys don’t know how to write a headline.” “Who taught you to do that?” “I don’t know why I keep working here with you guys.” “You’re the worst bunch ever.”

And there was a definite rite of passage with Larry. “When [fill in the blank] was Chairman, this was a good newspaper.” Sure enough, when I returned for my 25th reunion and went to the Prince barbeque, Larry regaled the 2003 editors with a familiar line: “When Knobel, Doyle, Klinger and Resnick were here, they knew what they were doing.”

7 thoughts on “Remembering Larry DuPraz

  1. David Liemer '76

    My son Ross ’08 recently ran for editor-in-chief. He lost, like his father before him, but we were both privileged to have been tutored (scolded and belittled is more like it) by this curmudgeonly genius called Larry Dupraz. We will be goin g to the funeral mass in Princeton tomorrow.

    Good luck to you, Lance, whatever you are doing now, and thanks for the memory of Larry.

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  2. Kathy Kiely

    Ross did a fabulous job on the obit. I will never forget Larry trying to cut the cord on the phone line in the press room as I made a last-minute change after what he thought should have been the deadline.

    For many of us, Larry Dupraz was one of the best teachers Princeton had to offer. Behind the growl was a devoted mentor who genuinely cared about younger people and was determined to give them the tools they needed to succeed. Whether he was right in his selection of tools didn’t matter so much; it was the caring that did.

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  3. Kate Warren

    I count myself among those who will surely miss Larry…he was a good friend who shared his love of family and country. Larry supported my efforts to seek a place at the Princeton Borough Council dais…he gave unselfishly of his time and spirit. The world is a better place because of Larry and neither the world nor Princeton will ever be the same without him. My condolences to all that had the priviledge of crossing his path and having him take notice. Kate Warren

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  4. Peter Brown '70

    Like hundreds, maybe thousands of other ’Prince staffers, I began my education in type, composition and page makeup when I started working as a night editor under Larry’s supervision in my freshman year, in the fall of 1966. I think my edit board was among the last that Larry had to put up with in teaching the mysteries of hot-metal composition: setting headline type upside down in a composing stick, finding the “fi” ligature in the California job case, feeling just how much torque to use when tightening the quoins in a chase full of type. Larry made it clear from the outset that we were a bunch of bums, compared to the class before us, but after a year or so of his watchful tutelage, our edit board had become the new high standard of comparison. Not that we were ever to be trusted with the real hot metal coming out of the big linotype machine….

    To this day, as an editor, I still practice the trade Larry introduced to me. It’s amazing to think that one of the best imitations of Archie Bunker I ever met became one of the most important mentors of my life. I saw him at Reunions in June 2005, when he and I and a fireman or two shot the breeze for a good half hour about the demise of hot metal and the plight of the volunteer firefighter in the borough, while Larry supervised the burgers and dogs. He was a happy man that day, in his element at the center of the action.

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  5. Steven L. Bernstein '81

    I just found out today, and feel terrible that I missed the funeral.

    Like Lance, I was Chairman, in 1980-81. Larry was like a father to us all, sometimes more ‘loco’ than ‘parentis.’ I didn’t realize till some time later how much I loved him, and learned from him. I had the pleasure of seeing Larry at my 25th Reunion last year, and that was easily the highlight of my weekend.

    Ross’s obituary was beautifully written, even though Larry would have found something wrong with it. Thanks for writing about Larry, Lance.

    Somewhere right now a crewcut compositor is berating St. Peter for the poor layout of the Old Testament…

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  6. Andy Schneider '87

    I had the honor of being managing editor under Larry, and like everyone else, his passing has stirred very deep emotions. As I wrote to a friend recently, this has been like losing a father. The sadness we all feel is a reflection of how many memories we all have of this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime character named Larry DuPraz.

    Larry “retired” in 1987, just as I was retiring from the editorship. We decided to surprise him with a special 4-page insert, much of which was later reprinted in the Alumni Weekly. With the help of Brian, we somehow managed to get it done without Larry knowing about it. That night we could tell that Larry was a little upset about only getting a small box on the front page announcing that this was his last paper. Right before we shot the front page, we inserted a different box that said to look inside for a special insert.

    We told Larry that he should go to the Packet with us to watch the last paper roll off the press. The highlight of my 4 years at Princeton was watching Larry pick the paper off the press run, and look inside to find comments from the Governor, Frank Deford, etc. The story about Larry’s life even surprised him with the fact that Claudia was pregnant with his fourth grandchild. (What a good sport she was to play along)
    That moment is memorialized in the drawing of Larry on the Princeton website.

    I believe it is time to name the Prince building on University Place after Larry: DuPraz Hall. Although he might not have contributed the millions of dollars that usually gets your name on a building, he contributed so much more.

    Thanks Larry,
    Andy

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  7. Joseph H Hunt IV

    I just heard about Mr. Dupraz passing 3 days ago.
    I am a former fire fighter from Engine Company #1 currently living in San Diego.
    My Grandfather and Mr.Dupraz were the best of friends since childhood.
    When my Grandfather passsed away he cheered me up with
    stories about their youth.
    I’m very upset that I didn’t learn of this in time.
    He was a very good man and a very dedicated firefighter.
    I hope the two of you are up there playing cards 🙂

    Joseph Hunt IV

    Reply

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