Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 6:52 am | Fair 49º


Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Larry Crandell Was Much More Than ‘Mr. Santa Barbara’ to Me

Tragedy strikes SBPD Chief Lori Luhnow in NoozWeek’s Top 5, followed by a weird rear-end crash, a horrific head-on collision, a casino mystery, and high time ahead for a real low life

One of the many things I admired about Larry Crandell was his sartorial splendor. While holding court at the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club in 2012, he could have been a model for The Official Preppy Handbook with his trademark Brooks Brothers pink buttondown, bowtie, casually rolled-up sleeves ... and “understated” eyewear. Click to view larger
One of the many things I admired about Larry Crandell was his sartorial splendor. While holding court at the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club in 2012, he could have been a model for The Official Preppy Handbook with his trademark Brooks Brothers pink buttondown, bowtie, casually rolled-up sleeves ... and “understated” eyewear. (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk file photo)

Hey, Fantasy Politicians League players: Did any of the scouting reports have Bill down as the trustworthy Clinton?

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My family often kids me that my biggest fans are dogs and old people. With the deaths of Bob Carlson, J.J. Hollister, Jerry Thede and, now, Larry Crandell, my posse has really been going to the dogs these last few months.

An iconic, larger-than-life figure, Larry Crandell was one of the most successful fundraisers Santa Barbara has ever known. He died at his home the afternoon of Aug. 30 at age 93.

Over nearly 60 years, Larry helped local charities raise more than $200 million — a truly staggering sum when you realize the vast majority of those donations came in paddle-raise increments of several hundred dollars.

“Mr. Santa Barbara” was far more than a silver-tongued emcee and a masterful auctioneer, however. He always did his homework, he knew his audience inside and out, he could read a room like a Las Vegas pit boss, and he could deftly call an audible if a key target wasn’t in a giving mood.

He made it look so easy. Ask Andrew Firestone; it’s not.

In spite of his self-deprecating humor, Larry freely admitted he loved the limelight — and he basked in the adulation it brought.

“No one’s been able to plumb the depths of my ability to accept praise,” he would wisecrack.

But as large as Larry’s ego was, it was dwarfed by the size of his heart.

Even chance encounters spurred magnificent acts of kindness and generosity that often resulted in him hosting a crack-of-dawn breakfast sales pitch at Moby Dick. It didn’t matter who you were or how important, if Larry issued the invitation, you went. Those meetings were packed.

Although he liked to joke about being lazy, his follow-through was legendary. No matter how challenging the cause, he was an unabashed and tireless advocate. I know this because Noozhawk and I are the eternally grateful beneficiaries of his cheerleading and advice.

Larry was Noozhawk’s biggest — and perhaps earliest — champion. He was no techie, but he got my cockamamie scheme the very first time he heard it. He was a terrific sounding board as the plan took shape inside the cavernous East Gutierrez Street incubator where we had neighboring offices.

It was his idea to start our Hawks Club, and he made the first donation. And then another. And another. We’re really going to miss that, but you can click here to make your own contribution. Trust me, Larry would ask you himself if he had the opportunity.

I don’t know why he took a shining to me, although it didn’t hurt that I really did laugh at all his “dad jokes” and stories, however often I heard them.

He would “treat” me to regular lunches at the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, his home away from home where he was the VIP but the charges always went on my tab — including the desserts he would generously order for me to take back to the office to share with my team.

Of course, I can’t let him pass without paying tribute to his prowess as a Ladies Man. Larry was the world’s most charming flirt, and he definitely had a type: Anyone younger than he was, which left the field wide open. Each time he saw my wife, Missy, he would ask if she was my daughter while introducing himself to her as if it were the first time.

Larry Crandell has earned his place of honor in Santa Barbara’s storied history, and it’s been my privilege and my inspiration to have had the opportunity to spend so much time with him over the years. Farewell, my friend.

The Crandell family is planning a public celebration of Larry’s life and legacy for early October. It will be a thoroughly inadequate attempt to capture what he meant to this community, but it will be all about him. That would be enough for Larry.

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After one of the biggest months of traffic in Noozhawk history, we had 109,222 readers this past week, according to our Google Analytics. Here’s my take on your top five stories:

Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow and her fiancé, Marc Homan, did Old Spanish Days in style during last month’s Fiesta Celebracion de los Dignatarios at the Santa Barbara Zoo. (Fritz Olenberger / Old Spanish Days photo)
Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow and her fiancé, Marc Homan, did Old Spanish Days in style during last month’s Fiesta Celebracion de los Dignatarios at the Santa Barbara Zoo. (Fritz Olenberger / Old Spanish Days photo)

1. Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow on Leave After Fiancé’s Death

The fiancé of new Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow died of an apparent heart attack last week at his Coronado home. He was just 53.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Marc “Homey” Homan, 53 and a former skipper of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 8, died Aug. 25, as our Tom Bolton first reported — and a local Fossil News publication later cribbed. Word for word. Without attribution. Imitation being the sincerest form of plagiarism and all.

Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman, confirmed Homan’s death for us, and said Luhnow has taken a bereavement leave. Capt. Bill Marazita is serving as active chief while she’s gone.

Luhnow, 50, was sworn in as Santa Barbara’s police chief in mid-July after 27 years with the San Diego Police Department.

In addition to Luhnow, Homan is survived by his two children, Siobhan, 17, and Declan, 14. Educational trusts have been established to accept donations on their behalf at the Coronado branch of JP Morgan Chase Bank (account numbers 3552795923 and 3552795931).

A celebration of Homan’s life will be held on the flight deck of the USS Midway in San Diego at 2 p.m. Sept. 2.

Oops. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
Oops. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

2. 4 Injured as Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Patrol Car Rear-Ends Ambulance

An Aug. 27 wreck sent five people to the hospital, but the first ambulance on the scene was in no condition to transport any of them. In fact, it was at the center of the collision.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, an American Medical Response ambulance was en route to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital about 6 p.m., carting an injured inmate from the Santa Barbara County Jail.

When the AMR driver slowed for a yellow light at the traffic signal at Calle Real and Old Mill Road, the vehicle was rear-ended by a trailing sheriff’s patrol vehicle, county Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said.

In addition to the previously injured inmate, he said, the sheriff’s deputy driving the car, another deputy in the ambulance and the two AMR employees were all injured. All five were taken to the hospital.

Names and conditions were not released, and the California Highway Patrol is investigating the circumstances of the crash.

One of these cars used to be a Dodge Challenger and the other a Honda Accord. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
One of these cars used to be a Dodge Challenger and the other a Honda Accord. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

3. 2 Dead, 2 Injured in Head-On Crash on Santa Lucia Canyon Road Near Lompoc

A Lompoc couple was killed in a head-on crash near the entrance to the Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution on Aug. 28. Authorities say two other people were injured in the wreck.

Bertha and Ruben Betancourt are survived by four children and five grandchildren. (Betancourt family photo)
Bertha and Ruben Betancourt are survived by four children and five grandchildren. (Betancourt family photo)

Details remained scant three days after the crash, but county Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said a Dodge Challenger and a Honda Accord were involved in the 12:30 p.m. collision on Santa Lucia Canyon Road near Klein Boulevard.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover identified the dead couple as Bertha and Ruben Betancourt, who were 57 and 51, respectively.

A son, Juan Betancourt, 31, of Oxnard, was seriously injured in the crash.

The driver of the other vehicle also was injured, but no further details have been released.

The Betancourts are survived by two daughters, two sons and five grandchildren.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family with funeral expenses. Click here to make an online donation.

Floriano’s Mexican Food, 1129 N. H St., is hosting a fundraiser from 3 to 10 p.m. Sept. 2, with $1 to be donated to the family for every burrito or torta ordered, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Starbuck-Lind Mortuary in Lompoc.

Hold it right there. (Jonathan D. Eymann photo)
Hold it right there. (Jonathan D. Eymann photo)

4. Incident at Chumash Casino Leads to Arrest at Gunpoint on Highway 154

A Ventura woman was arrested as a suspect in an altercation at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez after a highly visible, high-risk traffic stop on Highway 154 in Santa Barbara.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said deputies were called to the casino at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 23 after a guest reported being robbed in her room by two women and a man.

The victim identified one of the perps as an acquaintance, 28-year-old Nikki Graham of Ventura.

A deputy assigned to the Rey Fire spotted the getaway car heading toward Santa Barbara and pulled it over near Cathedral Oaks Road, where Noozhawk reader Jonathan Eymann happened to watch the excitement unfold.

The three occupants were detained at gunpoint, and Hoover said they were all hauled off to nearby sheriff’s headquarters for questioning.

“Following an investigation, it was determined the incident was a result of a financial dispute among the involved parties,” she said in understated policespeak, adding that Graham allegedly demanded money from the victim and assaulted her.

Deputy District Attorney Brooke Gerard said Graham was arrested and booked into County Jail on charges of attempted extortion by force or fear and misdemeanor battery.

Buh-bye. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
Buh-bye. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

5. Man Found Guilty of Attempted Rape of Girl in Downtown Santa Barbara in 2013

A 51-year-old transient charged in a 2013 sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl in downtown Santa Barbara was convicted in the case Aug. 26.

The attack wasn’t his first. Hopefully, it will be the last.

Ryan Craig Stevens initially was charged with forcible rape and kidnap for rape in connection with the assault. A county Superior Court jury in Santa Maria found him guilty of attempted rape and other charges.

Stevens was convicted in 1989 of two counts of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and lewd act upon a child involving two Santa Barbara victims. He had done some time for those crimes, and prosecutors allege three other victims had reported similar attacks around the same period.

“The defendant will never be able to hurt another child again,” Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian said after the latest verdict.

“It is anticipated that he will receive a sentence of 32 years to life in prison. All of the victims — both from the past and present — can start moving on with their lives and start healing, knowing that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.”

Stevens’ attorney, Adrian Galvan, maintains his client is innocent.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 23.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Man Killed, Another Injured in Highway 101 Collision in Goleta.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Who hasn’t looked at a lawnmower and wondered, “Could I use this thing to fly to Africa?” One Man’s Dream Project to Fly to Africa from Ireland by ... Lawnmower.

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Watch It

Apparently, the world’s fastest shopping cart has been clocked at 73 mph. Imagine the speed it could reach if all four wheels were headed in the same direction.

(dynamictestcenter video)

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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