Larry Himmel, feature reporter for San Diego CBS affiliate KFMB, has died of cancer. He was 68.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports, Himmel was known as the “resident rascal” who made everyone feel good.
“A man with a great heart and a tiny ego … a rare combination in TV news,” KFMB sports director/anchor Kyle Kraska said on Twitter.
“Larry made everyone feel special. Everyone,” [Carlo] Cecchetto wrote, calling him “a gift to us all.”
Reporter Abbie Alford posted that that she had only worked with Himmel for a short time, but greatly admired the humility the veteran broadcast personality demonstrated.
Himmel, a Chicago native, began his broadcasting career in 1969 as a night DJ at a radio station in Pekin, Ill., according to his KFMB biography.
In 1977, he worked as a standup comic at The Comedy Store in La Jolla, where he was later noticed by a KFMB news producer. He was hired by the station in 1979.
In 1984, KFMB launched a weeknight show with Himmel called “San Diego at Large,” which included stories on the odd and fascinating corners of the county.
Himmel’s “sense of humor, sharp wit and gifted story-telling ability” earned him many loyal viewers, and he was never too busy to stop and take pictures with them, the station said.
In 2008, Himmel won an Emmy Award for a live report outside his house in October 2007 as it went up in flames on a Rancho Bernardo ridge during the Witch Creek fire.
Strangers stopped him long afterward to say how his strength had helped them, the station said.
In a video clip shown during the station’s tribute, Himmel said his daily purpose was to “make people feel better about this place they call home.”
He is survived by his wife, Joan, and son, Miles.