Travels With Larry

In many ways, Larry Untermeyer’s life mirrors lots of residents who arrived in the 1950s and ’60s.

He’s a Korean veteran (Army special services). He worked in TV (“Pulse,” the first-ever morning show) and advertising (JWT, Hill & Knowlton, his own firm).

He and his wife Nikki raised 2 kids. When she retired after 23 years as a Weston Middle School teacher, they traveled the world. With good friends Ted and Carol Diamond, they visited 30 countries.

Larry Untermeyer and his daughter, Lynn Untermeyer Miller. (Photo/Mike Elliot)

She died nearly 6 years ago, of pancreatic cancer. That’s where Untermeyer’s story diverges a bit from other Westport 91-year-olds.

A month after Nikki died, he had a major operation and almost died. He had to learn to walk and write all over again.

Just a couple of months later, he took a trip. He spent 3 months in southeast Asia.

By himself.

His daughter Lynn — a longtime “06880” photographer — was terrified.

Untermeyer had a wonderful time. He calls it “one of the most extraordinary trips of my life.”

It was not his last. He’s traveled overseas 6 times since then. Untermeyer just returned from several wonderful weeks in Tanzania. It was his 7th time there. Each trip has been to a different country.

The Serengeti in Tanzania. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

His traveling companion was Bill Balch. A former Westporter whose wife died a year and a half ago, he now lives at Meadow Ridge. Previously, the men traveled to Greece — where they rented a car, and also sailed through the islands — and, on another trip, throughout Europe.

The 2 men knew each other through the Y’s Men’s Camera Club. Untermeyer had carried a camera throughout his many trips as an advertising executive. In retirement he became a noted photographer for, among other outlets, “06880” and WestportNow.

Untermeyer and Balch shot over 7,600 photos. They captured “every creature that crawled, walked and swam in the rivers and lakes,” as well as “birds of all sizes and color, on the wing and under brush.”

(Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

Untermeyer timed the trip to photograph the annual migration of more than a million wildebeests and zebras. They gather on the wide open plains of the Serengeti, heading several hundred miles north.

“It’s a sight to behold and to photograph,” Untermeyer says.

He and Balch also spent time in the Ngorongoro Crater, an ancient collapsed volcano where rare beasts and birds graze and roam.

Bill Balch and Larry Untermeyer.

Two days before she died, Nikki told her husband of 62 years, “Keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll live a long, long time.”

He heeded her words. Traveling — and photography — is energizing, Untermeyer says.

“I never wanted to sit around and feel sorry for myself,” he says. “I’m very lucky to have my health and my brain, and to be able to use my camera. As long as I can move around, I’m happy.”

Photography has been “a constant thread through my life. From my early days to now, it’s been a steady force.”

Untermeyer is already planning his next trip. It may be Portugal. Or Namibia.

Actually, that sounds like 2 more trips, for Westport’s favorite 91-year-old photographer.

(Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

17 responses to “Travels With Larry

  1. John Brandt

    Larry is a valued member of the Y’s Men and a good friend. He is also a force of mature. All the Y’s Men look to Larry as the template of what we all want to become. The word icon comes to mind.

  2. Matthew Mandell

    Cheers to Larry, love the guy. Met him way back in the Partrick Wetlands days. Bigtime supporter of the effort.

    Always friendly and one hell of a photographer.

  3. Fred Cantor

    Larry was very helpful when Mary Gai and I did an exhibit at the WHS a couple of years ago and I wish I could have even a quarter of the “get up and go” he has. Larry could have been the inspiration for the Energizer Bunny. Larry, it’s great to see you’re still traveling all over–but, please, don’t try a solo trans-Atlantic sailing trip (because I can just imagine it’s something you have contemplated)!

  4. Bonnie Adler

    I’d love to see more photos. Will Larry be having a show?

  5. Amazing and inspiring. May we all be doing this at 91 years old.

  6. Rindy Higgins

    Larry, you are a fantastic role model, energized, involved, intriguing. Larry, thanks for being the talented YOU and you, too Lynn!

  7. Ian O'Malley

    I’ve enjoyed so many of the 06880 stories, and this one is definitely an all time favorite. If there was ever an example of “Life is for the living”, this is it.
    Well done!

  8. Lynda Shannon Bluestein

    Not sure which is more remarkable in this episode of 06880 – the ‘next chapter of life’ story or the photographs. Both stunning and inspiring..

  9. Janette Kinnally

    Wow! What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. It is always so inspiring to hear the special stories that each person has. And I love at the age of 91 Larry has a lot more stories he continues to share. Keep living your best life!

  10. Jill Turner Odice

    What an inspiration! If he can do it at his age, I have no excuse to why I can’t do it at 64 🙂

  11. Jennifer Rosenwald

    I just LOVE this story — so interesting, so inspiring. I too would welcome — and help with — an exhibit of Larry’s work.

  12. Ann Chernow

    Larry is a very special , scintillating person, can’t wait for the film!

  13. Rebecca Ellsley

    I love this “live life”….and document it along the way with amazing photos that you share with us. Thank you these photos are beautiful. Larry you are wonderful and always positive. Thank you

  14. Jamie Walsh

    A true Westport Icon!

  15. Armelle Pouriche

    What a fantastic, inspiring story. Thx for sharing Dan, and way go Larry!

  16. Scott Broder

    Beautiful expose on a wonderful family👍🏼❗️
    Thanks for sharing Dan😉

  17. Sharon Paulsen

    I am late to comment here, but those animal photos really took my breath away.

    I didn’t realize the scope of his work.

    Now I have a sense of it, thanks to Dan’s post here.

    Such beauty!

    No words.