The late Larry Crandell had a fondness for fundraising, as well as a sense of humor that helped him wisecrack his way into local lore as a popular and prolific emcee.
Over a span of more than six decades, Crandell helped Santa Barbara County charities raise more than $200 million at countless venues and events.
Whenever someone got a little too close to his spotlight, however, he would quip, with flawless timing and eye twinkling, “Excuse me, but I work alone.”
The line was a perennial favorite with his captive audiences, and many from those crowds will gather Saturday to celebrate Crandell’s life. The man known and venerated as “Mr. Santa Barbara” died Aug. 30 at age 93.
In the end, Crandell will be far from alone as a contingent nearly the size of a Hollywood production comes together to give him a grateful send-off.
Doors open at 10:30 a.m.
“For people who love Santa Barbara, this event is not to be missed,” said son Steven, whose book, Silver Tongue — Secrets of Mr. Santa Barbara, will be available Saturday.
“We will honor my father, of course. But in doing so, we will also tell the story of how you can serve your community and have a blast doing it.”
In addition to Crandell’s family, the lineup of speakers — either on stage or by video — includes Anne and Michael Towbes, Gerd and Peter Jordano, Peter MacDougall, Rep. Lois Capps, Ernesto Paredes, Andrew Firestone, D.C. and Mike McGuire, Dave Peterson, Steve Ainsley and Ron Werft.
Kate Carter, founder and president of LifeChronicles, has put together a tribute video, as well as a series of clips from more than five hours of recordings her nonprofit organization has from interviews with Crandell over the last 15 years.
A team from LifeChronicles — which videotapes end-of-life stories and farewells, as well as messages for the future — will be on hand afterward so guests can share their own “Larry Stories” that will be compiled in a longer video.
Fittingly, the event also will be a fundraiser for a scholarship in Crandell’s name at the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
The family asked three of his longtime friends — Tom Parker, Joe Howell and Bill Macfadyen — to emcee the celebration, which is being produced by Judi Weisbart.
Son Michael Crandell said his dad was once asked where he would go if he could be invisible.
“After a pause, he said, ‘I’d go to my own funeral,’” he recalled. “He was of course spinning his answer with humor, but I think we will see during his Celebration of Life that he was right.
“I think he’ll be there with us all, sharing stories, chuckling at his own jokes once again, and somehow no doubt having the last word. I can’t wait.”
A reception follows the event, with refreshments provided by McDonald’s, a favorite destination of Crandell’s.