December 11, 1938 – September 20, 2021
“Make Every Day Count”
Our beloved husband, father, brother, colleague, and best friend, slipped away peacefully at his home in Santa Cruz, California, surrounded by his family. For many months, Larry held insatiably to life, because he simply loved living—on every level. Recently he was busy with many projects—adding more solar power to the house, taking magnificent photographs, practicing the viola da gamba, studying music theory, redesigning the front yard with beautiful succulent plants, and playing Pokémon with the grandkids and other aficionados of the game.
The last few months, this has been his daily mantra: “Make every day count.” And we did. His three-year journey with pancreatic cancer changed everything. We made every moment count. During his last few days, he was telling everyone, “There are only two things that matter: Having work that you love, and finding the right partner.” He said how lucky he was to have found both.
Larry is survived by Marti Selman, his devoted wife of 32 years; son Matthew David (Matisse) Selman, daughter-in-law Daniela Selman, grandsons Mason Lawrence Selman and Dashiell Jean Selman; son Noah Jordan Selman, daughter-in-law Sarah Selman, grandchildren Isaiah Clive Overson, Jacqueline Ruby Overson, and Khiaan J. Selman; sister Kay Ellen (Kelly) Selman, brother-in-law Robin Wallace, of Gainesville, Florida; first wife Linda Pope of Aptos; and a host of extended family and friends who will carry him in their hearts forever.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio to Evelyn and Morton Selman, Larry attended public schools in Cleveland Heights and earned a Bachelor’s degree at Kenyon College, after which he spent a year abroad studying chemistry at University College, London. He then went on to earn a Master’s degree and PhD in organic chemistry at Yale University. After a brief career in teaching, Larry discovered by chance what would become his career for the next four decades. A friend in the early music world introduced him to one of his collections: glass paperweights. Larry was immediately enthralled by these small objets d’art and began buying and selling them as a hobby, which in time evolved into a career.
Larry will be remembered by paperweight collectors around the world for his work in this field. In 1969, he founded L. H. Selman, Ltd. which began as a kitchen-table mail-order business with his first wife, Linda Pope, who co-authored his first book, Paperweights for Collectors. L. H. Selman, Ltd. became the world’s premier purveyor of both antique and contemporary glass paperweights. For years, Larry regularly traveled to auctions to bid for clients or to purchase rarities for his collectors. He wrote numerous definitive books about the art form, and published many other titles under his publishing house, Paperweight Press.
Throughout his career as an art dealer, Larry drew on his lifelong skills as a photographer, figuring out the best ways to photograph glass. (He had created a dark room in his childhood home in Cleveland when he was fifteen). The exceptional quality of his photos set the standard among the paperweight world. Always the innovator, Larry was the first paperweight dealer to have a website. This was in the early days of the internet, when building a website required months of laborious and unforgiving attention to detail. Larry actually wrote the computer code himself, in the late hours on his home computer. He was the first paperweight dealer to establish an online auction.
Eventually the mail order / auction business evolved into a beautiful glass gallery in downtown Santa Cruz. The shop became a mecca for paperweight collectors from around the world who came to attend many festivals and other paperweight-related events which were hosted here. He fostered a collaborative work environment where his small staff could actively participate, and enjoy their work as much as he did.
In 2009, Larry decided that after 40 years it was time to “pass the torch” of the business to someone else.
L. H. Selman, Ltd. was purchased by Clark family, who moved the business to the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, where it resides and continues to thrive.
Larry was a devoted father who adored his family. In 1976, son Matthew (Matisse) was born, followed by son Noah in 1978. Throughout his career as a businessman, he always found time to be 100% present for his children, constructing electronic projects at the dining room table, selling at the local flea market, having sushi-making dinners at home and lifelong daily conversations about their many diverse interests and activities.
After moving to Santa Cruz in the early 1970s, Larry continued to play Renaissance and Medieval music with friends. He played with the Antiquarian Funks, the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, and with a small group that called themselves The Byrd Consort. In 1986, while serving on the board of directors for the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, Larry met Marti Edwards, who shared his passion for early music and his interest in personal computers. They married in 1989, and Marti soon joined him in the business, where she worked as an active partner for the next twenty years.
One of Larry’s lifelong interests was the field of communications. He found it thrilling that he could send out a catalog from Santa Cruz, California and that people from all over the world would respond. Watching the automated equipment he had acquired for mailing paperweight catalogs sit idle between mailings, he founded Complete Mailing Service, another entity to help other businesses communicate with their clients. That business still thrives in Santa Cruz under its new owner and name: Complete Mailing and Printing.
That same passion for communication took him into the world of amateur radio and later, into his lifelong captivation by the internet. In 1988, Larry taught himself Morse Code and became an amateur radio operator, under the call sign AA6MV. He and Marti (N6ULI) took trips to several remote islands for “DX-peditions” where they enjoyed talking over short-wave radio to other “hams” around the world. They found they shared many other interests as well: organic gardening, beekeeping, wine-making, the fiber arts (weaving, knitting, spinning, dying fibers with natural pigments), birding, travel, photography, and meeting new friends in each new field they pursued.
In the early 2000s, a relative introduced him to the world of birding. As a result, Larry became totally immersed in the world of bird photography, taking workshops with well-known American bird photographers, and traveling with Marti to many places across the United States to photograph birds in their natural settings. He spent many hours photographing hummingbirds at the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz, where the family has placed a bench in his memory at the newly planted succulent garden in the South Africa section.
Larry developed a keen “eye” for seeing and capturing—not just birds, but also people, plants, and abstract patterns. Eventually, Larry got into black and white street photography and spent many hours walking the streets of Santa Cruz, Bisbee, Chicago, and Santa Fe capturing whatever caught his well-developed eye. His work was sold in galleries in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
In 2015, Larry returned to his old passion for playing early music. Before the pandemic, he and Marti attended every local chamber music concert they could. They also traveled out of state for chamber music performances, and attended many viola da gamba workshops in California and Arizona. Larry often remarked that there is nothing more satisfying than playing music with friends.
Larry’s ability to single-mindedly focus on one of his many interests will be remembered and appreciated by all who knew him. A true Renaissance Man, once he became passionate about a subject, he became laser-focused on learning everything he could. Other interests took a back seat while he ramped up his knowledge on a new subject. His latest project followed the same pattern: the decision to re-design the front yard with draught-tolerant plants resulted in a new stack of books to devour about succulents.
We will always treasure Larry’s keen curiosity in just about anything and everything he encountered, his brilliant analytic ability, his many passionate interests, his generosity, his zest for life, and his quiet sense of humor, which was with him until the end. But beyond all of these gifts, his kindness and caring for others stands out to everyone who knew him.
We will not be having any service at this time, but we are asking anyone who would like to celebrate Larry to go out and do something special in his honor. Please help us celebrate our Renaissance Man by doing something you love and feel passionate about—and making every day count.
View the online memorial for Larry Selman
Published by Santa Cruz Sentinel on Jan. 30, 2022.