With a great burden weighing on our hearts, we would like to share that our community lost two beautiful people when Larry and Denise Bressler were slain in their Pasadena, CA, home yesterday. While the circumstances are gruesome and not entirely known, we do know that Larry and Denise had taken in a family member who had fallen on hard times and was trying to right his course. This kind of generosity and kindness surprised no one who knew them, but it cost them an unthinkable price.
Larry was a chef and a teacher. As the General Manager of Chefs Center in Pasadena, he helped young chefs and restaurateurs reach their dreams. While many of us struggle to find even one true passion, let alone turn that passion into a life's work, Larry had fully developed two of them in his 50 years: food and music. He mused often about the similarities between the harmonies of flavor and the harmonies of sound. His talent and his boundless enthusiasm earned him the honor of cooking for many professional musicians, and that was his favorite thing to do in the whole wide world. If you've played at High Sierra Music Festival, chances are you've savored Larry's cooking backstage – quite possibly with Larry sitting beside you, asking about you, your bandmates, and where your tour would take you next.
Larry's commitment to personal growth was an inspiration to so many. He was a fixture at the Wharf Rats table, the Phellowship, and more, and coached countless people to sobriety over the years. After losing 180 pounds in his own heroic battle with food addiction, he had a brand new life stretched out before him full of health, possibilities, friends, music – and, of course, his beloved Denise (who had a pure singing voice whose power seemed almost impossible, coming as it did from a woman of her modest stature).
I was lucky enough to be Chef Larry's humble student, if informally, in both cooking and in life. He cooked beside me Saturday afternoon, pulling my ass out of the proverbial fire more than once, and refusing to leave until the job was done even though I'd made him and Denise terribly late for Tom Petty. After the show, they came back and had a plate. He wanted to talk about Phish and the upcoming shows here. We had no idea we were saying goodbye.
Though their Facebook walls are technicolor outpourings of love and despair from coast to coast and beyond, it is impossible to express how deeply this cuts, and for so many. This loss and this inexplicable absence will be profoundly felt and displayed out there this Fall, but there is nothing Larry and Denise would want more than for their friends to dance the pain away. Please do not underestimate the value of an understanding hand on a shoulder, or a held glance, or a smile over these next few weeks. We sure could use it about now.
Farewell, good friends. We love you, always.
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