Larry Untermeyer — a Westporter for over 60 years, whose retirement career of photography made him a beloved local icon — died Sunday night. He was 94 years old.
From the pages of “06880” and WestportNow, to the walls of the Library and art shows, Larry’s photos celebrated his town — and the world — with a keen eye, a fresh perspective, plenty of color, and a bit of whimsy.
Larry was curious about everything he photographed — and he shot photos all over the world. He spent 6 weeks in Greece after his 90th birthday, slowing down only to make sure his shutter was ready.
Larry came to photography after service in the Korean War (Army special services), the early days of television, and advertising.
Westport is lucky that Larry came to us.
In 2019, I posted this story on 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.
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.
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 — each time to a different country. Most recently, Untermeyer just returned from several wonderful weeks in Tanzania.
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.”
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.
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.
Here is a small sampling of Larry Untermeyer’s “06880” photos:
Lynn, my condolences. I hope you will find some comfort in the fact that your dad led about as full and an amazing life as anyone could hope for.
I feel very lucky to have had a few incredible conversations
learning about some of your travels.
To a brilliant kind man RIP Larry🙏🏼
Above being a great photographer Larry was
A really great person. Always a joy to be with.
As a Y’s Man we sailed together far and wide and he
Was always a joy for all aboard.
A life well lived, and full. What he saw, he shared. What he did, he loved. What he left behind, is forever. His keen sense and ability to capture the world for us to see along with his quiet yet bubbly personality, was a treat. It runs in the family (Lynn ❤️).
I’ll miss him ❤️
My condolences to Lynn and the family and friends of Larry. What an amazing man.
Oh no. This is one of Westports greatest losses in its history and for many reasons. Larry was a joy to be with due to his vibrant joyous nature. For many he formed a vision of Westport at its best through his lens. I’m going to miss you and our wonderful encounters Larry. RIP and thank you for all you provided for me I enjoyed every moment of your work and presence.
I met Larry at a reminisce evening at his house honoring his much loved late wife Nikki. What was supposed to be a quick stop in turned into a several hour one on one discussion at which i learned about Sam Untermyer the enormously successful turn of the century lawyer who established Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers and about his father the poet Laureate Louis Untermyer whose many wives were awful mothers to young Larry and who served on the first years of “Whats my Line” until he was fired by the sponsor for his leftist views. I found Larry’s stories fascinating.
His generosity to the Westport Historical Society of which I was President when I met him was well known. Every benefit that we had included several of his photos in its auction. He was very proud that his daughter Lynn became a fine photographer!
His passing is a great loss to Westport.
Most certainly a life well lived and a tremendous legacy of extraordinary photographs. I loved reading about Larry’s adventures well into his 90s. May we all take a page from his playbook. My deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to Lynn, her dear husband Jason and children.
The story of Larry moves my heart and inspires my artistic spirit. Sending Lynn and her family my comfort and love.
In addition to being a great photographer, Larry was a kind and generous man. He took photos at my mother’s 85th birthday party and Marvin and my wedding that are beautiful and a treasure. A good good man. Our condolences to Lynn and their whole family and friends. Joan and Marvin
So very sorry to hear this news. Larry was a wonderful man, a very talented photographer and an all around good guy. I am so happy that I knew him.
A very talented photographer and, more importantly, a good person. My condolences to the Untermeyer family
How very sad to hear, he left quite a legacy that will keep him in our hearts and eyes forever. Our condolences to Lynn and the entire family.
A great talent. A fine gentleman. A sad loss.
I don’t think I can say more about Larry than those have already said. This is a great loss to Westport. Not only for his photographs but also for his contributions to the town civic activities.
Every encounter with Larry was memorable.
My sincere condolences to Lynn and family💫
I’m sorry to have missed him. I congratulate those who knew him and offer my condolences to those who loved him. Thank you, Jayne Ehrlich for sharing this news with me.
I met Larry when I was the education director at the Historical Society years ago where we worked on several creative projects together . He was a tremendous energetic talent and I was always proud he thought of me as a friend. We shared a love of antique toys, and many laughs. A fine creative gentleman he was. I know he’s proud that his wonderful daughter, Lynn, will carry on the esteemed Untermeyer creative and talented legacy.
I will miss him. but I am so glad I knew him.
Sending Love and healing to Lynn and family.
What beautiful work and what a wonderful and inspirational life story. My condolences to Mr. Untermeyer’s family and friends.
They say you will long forget what someone did for their living but will always remember how they made you feel. Larry is one person who fits that category and is remembered with the most heartfelt kindness and generosity of spirit. I’m honored to have had Larry as a friend and someone I admired very much.
My heartfelt condolences Lynn.
For the last 7 months or so, I was fortunate to be with Larry just about every day. He wanted me there to start helping him with things that were becoming a bit difficult for him to do. He said over and over, “You don’t work FOR me, you work WITH me”. It didn’t take long for us to become good friends, especially once I perfected my cooking of all his favorite meals, to his liking! Larry so modestly told me stories of all his travels and the people he met along the way. He was always helping others. He taught me a lot. When I received the call the other day that Larry had passed, one specific thought was extra sad…he couldn’t wait for the weather to get warmer so I could take him to Compo Beach. He was excited to grab sandwiches, feel the sun and “people watch”. I wish so much we had the chance to do that. I’ll think of Larry every time I go to Compo the rest of my life, and remember all the fun we had together. Rest in peace LU.
This note is for Lynn Dear Lynn I have neither your email. nor your street address,nor phone. I want you to know how often I am thinking of you since you told me Larry died ..You know how I loved Larry….I’d like to hear from you with the best way to contact you. Dan or Miggs. could give you my email. but. you have my phone. I’m home almost always after. 5. Please. let me hear from you. Ann
I am grateful that I had the chance to work with Larry since 2005, shortly after I moved back to Westport.. I called him out of the blue and told him I was curating an exhibit at The Westport Historical Society called Yesterday’s Toyland, and that I had been told he had a collection of toys. He invited me over and welcomed me to his magical world of toys. All displayed and each with a story which he shared that day. It was thrilling. Hours of stories and toys from another era. He let me pick out the ones I wanted, while making suggestions ofcourse, and off I went in my car filled with carefully packed toys. This was the beginning of a 15 year working and brunching friendship.These last few years we mostly spoke on the phone. The final exhibit I worked on with him and Lynn was an album cover show, just a few months ago, on the Jesup Wall at the Westport Library. It was Blockbuster Broadway album covers, which Larry had acquired at the openings of the shows. Many of them had liner notes written by his father Louis Untermeyer. He was so excited about it and Lynn made it happen as he picked out 12 albums to show. His display of photographs at Westport Town Hall, taken from a small plane (pre-drone) is worth seeing even though it is a little worse for the wear.
We always thought we would come in and re-do it.
Lynn, Mark and I are very sorry for your loss.
Our condolences for the passing of Larry. There probably isn’t a place he didn’t photograph in Westport, so his presence will be ever felt. The Silver family.
Larry did the best summer beach photography 📷RIP🇺🇸
Larry was a very talented and lovely man. Stop into Town Hall and look at his amazing photographic “mural” of Westport.