The news of Larry Daughtrey’s death was hard to take for those of us who knew him well, especially those of us who were also close to Larry’s good friend Mike Pigott, who passed away less than a year ago.
Larry and Mike were a lot alike.
Both were men of few words, but those words were always well-chosen. People hung on those words, sometimes literally.
They were droll wits – old-school newspaper reporters who watched history unfold before them with a deadpan expression and summed things up with uncanny precision and brevity.
Both preferred to do their talking through a keyboard. And both left you wanting more.
When Mark McNeely, Mike and I started our company, one of the guys we took the most grief from was Larry, who had no use for flacks. And, one of the guys who was there for us when we needed a friend the most was Larry.
When he turned 50, I remember Pigott coming in and saying, “We need to throw a party for Daughtrey.” Mark and I looked at him and said, “Well, that would be a great idea except that nobody will come because he’s torched them all in his column.”
But we threw the party anyway, and most of those people he’d torched were the first ones in the door.
“Mad Dog Daughtrey” was the wording on the birthday cake. That nickname – offered in jest – was meant to poke fun at the fear people felt when Larry was covering a story. I think watching the sausage being made for all those years had made him somewhat ornery and quick to call out a scoundrel, which somehow described most of the people he covered.
I remember that party, and how much everyone enjoyed celebrating Larry, because what he stood for, when all the cynical orneriness was stripped away, was a passion for the truth. Larry embodied all that was good and noble about journalism. He was an independent voice, whose mission was to tell the truth and enlighten his readers about the workings of their government and the political process. God knows we miss him.