Larry Stammer dies at 73; covered religion, environment as Times reporter

Many years into his career as a journalist, Larry B. Stammer found an opportunity to buy back and restore a cabin that his great-grandfather had built on roughly 100 acres in Fulton, Mo.

It became not only the site of family vacations but a setting where Stammer found inspiration to keep writing long after retiring from the Los Angeles Times.

“He called it his ‘old home place’ and it gave him solace,” said his daughter Cheryl Stammer.

A career journalist who wrote on everything from religion to the environment, Larry Stammer died Thursday at his La Crescenta home after a five-year battle with cancer. He was 73.

An ardent Dodgers fan — his Facebook page attests to that — and a longtime devout Episcopalian and leader in his parish, Stammer spent most of his professional life at newspapers. He joined The Times’ Sacramento Bureau in 1975 and later moved to Los Angeles.

“He was a relentless watchdog in monitoring the work of the Air Quality Management District and exposing any lax policies that might lead to greater health threats to the public,” recalled Frank Sotomayor, a retired Times journalist who was Stammer’s editor on the environment beat.

Born Sept. 6, 1941, in Springfield, Mo., Stammer grew up on the move as the stepson of a career military man. He attended Cal State Sacramento and Cal State L.A. and got his first paying job in journalism as a stringer for the Sunnyvale Daily Standard in 1959.

His career path may have been clear much earlier, however: He started his own newspaper, which he dubbed the Scuttlebutt, when he was in junior high school.

After the Sunnyvale paper, Stammer moved to the San Jose Mercury News, then on to The Times. He won a Sierra Club award in 1991 for his environmental coverage.

Stammer is survived by his wife, Sera; two daughters, Cheryl -- and her longtime partner Christopher Hollingshead -- and Julie Black; two grandchildren; and two sisters.

jean.merl@latimes.com

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
59°