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Remembering Paul Lasley

Remembering Paul

OnTravel has always meant “Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman.” On September 21, 2021, Paul, my beloved husband of 37 years passed on. We worked together for 37 years, too, and I treasure every day of our life together.

Although I’d known Paul for a long time, I didn’t really know him well when he called and asked me over for mincemeat tart and French hot chocolate on Christmas Eve, 1983. “I have a party to go to, but I’ll stop by on the way,” I told him. After visiting with him and another couple he’d invited, I left for my party. We hugged good-bye.

After that, we started seeing each, just as friends at first, because we were both alone. (That fall, Paul’s first wife, Elena, had died, and my first husband, Jim had divorced me.) We went out for dinner, we went to church together and had lunch afterward, and as we were driving the LA freeways one day, he mentioned that he’d been a cowboy – for 3 years, on a horse ranch in Nevada. I suddenly realized there was more to this sweet, gentle man than I knew.

One night – on Valentine’s Day weekend – as we sat in the car at Union Station in Los Angeles, about to go across the street to have carnitas and hand-made tortillas at La Luz del Día on Olvera Street, Paul proposed. I’m not sure he meant to – he just did. I said “yes.” For years, we’d always celebrate our anniversary at La Luz del Día.

My mother was planning fly out from Indiana to Southern California to comfort me after my divorce. “Can you stay a few extra days and come to my wedding?” I asked her on the phone. She and my sister, Cynthia, did just that. A federal judge we knew married Paul and me in friends’ backyard in Beverly Hills on March 10, 1983.

We traveled the world together – as travel writers, editors, and radio talk show hosts. In Southern California, we hosted our own talk shows about travel on KABC radio in Los Angeles, and on NPR station KPCC (now LAist). Later, we hosted daily talk radio shows about travel on the American Forces Network. For several years, we were the travel correspondents on NBC’s Today show. We were a team. I always figured if I got into trouble on the air, Paul would be there to save me. He felt the same way about me.

Paul was the chef in our family – so talented, he could have been a professional chef. Many a morning I’d wake up to smell of freshly baked scones. He kidded me that that’s why I stayed with him, but he knew better.

Since we traveled so much for work, our vacations were driving around California. One time, as we drove through the Northern part of the state, I said, “If you were an explorer and you saw that mountain over there, what would you name it (thinking he’d say something like “Rocky” or “High Top.”) Without missing a beat, he said, “Mount Elizabeth!” Do you wonder why I loved this man? He was always thinking of ways to make me happy.

I loved our love life. I loved our working life. I loved just being with him. We relished what we were told young people in India call “the sublime art of just hanging out.”

When Paul died, hundreds of friends and fans sent cards and emails, and posted praises on social media. Larry Mantle, host LAist’s AirTalk, paid him an on-air tribute, and Catharine Hamm, former travel editor of the Los Angeles Times wrote his eulogy. [see below]

Now, I have to carry on without that loving, kind, remarkable man. On future audio content, I’ll sign off solo, but Paul will always be part of OnTravel.

—Elizabeth Harryman Lasley

 

Paul Lasley Eulogy

by former Los Angeles Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm

Paul Lasley, the velvet-voiced radio host whose style and grace made interviewees feel like old friends, died in September 2021, after a brief illness.

Paul began his career in public relations, opening L.A. hotels, including the Bonaventure and the Century Plaza. He then gravitated toward journalism, serving as leisure editor for California Business and as travel editor for Palm Springs Life. For 10 years, Paul and his wife, Elizabeth Harryman, wrote a column on travel and dining for the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Herald, among other newspapers. For 22 years, they wrote the Travel Smart column in AAA’s Westways.

The husband-and-wife team also hosted talk radio shows about travel on KABC and public radio station KPCC, both in Los Angeles, and were travel correspondents for NBC’s Today show.

Paul’s colleagues saw him in action in his role as host of daily radio shows on the American Forces Network. His audio work won two gold Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards, plus numerous silver and bronze awards. “Not too long ago, Paul and Elizabeth interviewed my colleagues and me for their show,” said Victoria Larson, who runs VK Larson Communications. “I am not sure who was having more fun, but they made all of us feel comfortable, welcome and important. “Definitely a light has gone out in the world.”

Paul’s light also shone brightly in SATW (Society of American Travel Writers).  He served for two years as Western Chapter chair and was president of SATW from 2015-2016 and many years on the SATW Foundation board. For his service to the SATW board, Paul was awarded the President’s Cup in 2017.

“A man whose heart always was in the best place, Paul was a best friend to many of us,” said David Molyneaux, former travel editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. “I wonder if he ever tried to count how many of us there were. I can imagine he would answer with names and stories until he ran out of airtime, signed off as Paul and Elizabeth, turned off the mic and he would say, ‘We must do this again, soon.’”