Larry Bitte was born in Longview, Washington March 9, 1937. Our neighbor of 45 years, Dwane, was also born there the same year (two peas in a pod in Carlotta). Larry passed away November 12, 2022, with family at Humboldt Hospice House in Eureka. Service will be at Fortuna Nazarene Church Sunday, February 19, 2022, at 3 p.m. Refreshments follow.

Larry was raised in St Helens, Oregon, a mill town where at a young age he toted firewood from his dad’s mill to his customers via a wheelbarrow and helped his mother, Margaret, with their annual garden. Later, he daily greased the mill before grade school. His Latvian grandfather rebuilt an old canoe for him and at 12 he had his own motorboat, in which his best lifelong friends Don Heacock (Claudia), Gary Seawright (LuAnne) and he played hooky on the Columbia River most afternoons.

In high school he and Gary played baritones, and they were pronounced the two best players in Oregon. He swam on the local team, which won first place in Oregon.

When Larry turned 16, his father put all the logging trucks in Larry’s name so he could legally drive them. After high school he left St. Helens to attend college and earned a BS, MS and PhD, the latter in Biochemistry from the University of Oregon Medical School in Portland. While attending Oregon State he marched in the 1957 Rose Parade packing his beloved baritone seven miles.

From 1960 to 1962 he served in the US Army in Maryland at Aberdeen Proving Ground and was married. In 1962, his first daughter Lisa was born severely handicapped from the last American rubella epidemic. His professors told him to put Lisa in an institution, because she would hinder his professional career. He replied “never” amid many expletives. Lisa lived at home, part of a loving family.

In 1963 he met Kenneth Gamon (Sue) in Organic Chemistry. Lifelong friends for over 58 years.

In 1966, he married Dianne, his wife of 56 years. Dianne joined a family of avid mushroom hunters, crabbers and zealous razor clam diggers. Learning to dig clams and cook them was an initiation.

In 1966, Larry’s dear Aunt Betty was thrown off a Cannon Beach, Oregon beach. The sand had been roped off as private property. Always a scrapper, that event launched Larry’s passion to keep all Oregon beaches public. During that fight his only car, a VW bug, was stolen and burned and his phone was tapped for many months. He was also forced to leave his PhD program for a year- for political reasons. (He learned how to paint houses that year to support his family.) Larry, Bob Bacon (Anatomy Professor) and wife Sue Daniels and Jeff Gonor (OSU’s Marine Science Center) formed Citizens To Save Oregon Beaches, Inc. God directed Larry to an extraordinary clerk in Salem who knew what research materials Larry needed to write the legal brief which authenticated that, indeed, Oregon beaches had been preserved by Osward West, a former governor. The Oregon Supreme Court later agreed.

Several PBS TV Specials were made of Lary and Bob which are shown biannually so that Oregonians never forget what they almost lost. Oregon is the only lower 48 state in the union with every mile of coastline open to the public. Local authors documented their victory in several book.

In 1973, Larry’s daughter, Rachel Elizabeth, was born, the third love of his life.

In 1976, Larry left the academic research community and settled in Carlotta. He went salmon fishing out of Trinidad in a 22-foot boat, always happiest on the water, whether the Columbia River or the Pacific Ocean.

In 1977, Larry met many local Native Americans who needed a grant writer for a national film project. The grant placed seventh nationally and regrettably they only funded four that year. But many life-long friends remain.

In 1973, he secured an NIH grant and moved to Denver (where he met his friend Gordon Watson, a fellow biochemist, tennis player and wine maker) and later San Francisco. Throughout subsequent years he fished, joined seismic boats around the world, sold real estate (after saving one man’s home from foreclosure several times — always a scrapper for the underdog — he was the recipient of yearly buckets of candle fish left on the doorstep.)

Then, as his grandfather before him, he started working with his hands, building, repairing and designing homes, joining with John Roudebush (Donna) for several decades. During that time he met Dave Franceschi (Teresa) for albacore fishing and crabbing.

In 2000, Greg Hess joined his family as his favorite son-in-law: Incredibly talented, funny, versatile, and devoted to Rachel and Lisa.

Jesus was the rock of his life. He rededicated his life to the Lord in 1992 at Sacred Heart’s Crusillo: dinner was late and the group sang “Amazing Grace” over forty times waiting for dinner to be miraculously cooked (that was his favorite hymn). Later he helped in Whitethorn at Lady of the Redwoods Monastery twice a year fixing, clearing and helping with their homes and property.

He is survived by his wife, Dianne, daughters Lisa and Rachel and son-in-law Greg Hess, his brother Steven Bitte, cousins Walter Passarge (Lois) and Garry Wilson (Karen) who grew up as siblings and nephew Eric Bitte (Andrea Yount.), cousin Dan Magone (Sue), sister-in-law Barbara Flores (Eric) brother-in-law Robert Brack (Iva) and Chris Lassen(Cyndy.) Special thanks to our faithful friends and neighbors: Roudebushes, Franceschis, Parkers, Kurtz, McQueens, Nanette Long, Isaacs, Bronsons, Anita Horner, Elizabeth Overstreet, our Mennonite friends and angels from Hospice House of Humboldt.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Larry Bitte’s loved onesThe Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email