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Acclaimed architect and Victoria native, Larry Totah, passes away

By APRILL BRANDON
Sept. 9, 2010 at 4:09 a.m.

Larry Totah

Talk to anyone who knew Larry Totah and chances are, they'll tell you what a big heart he had.

It was all the better to love his many friends and family.

Totah, 55, passed away Sept. 3 in Los Angeles after a battle with Lymphoma. Born and raised in Victoria, the acclaimed architect and designer had friends and family spanning the United States and the world, longtime friend Andrea Kreuzhage said.

"He had many international friends, from all languages, all races, all backgrounds. He had a world view and was very open to exploring different cultures," said Kreuzhage, who's originally from Germany. "He was very much an artist, very curious, very warm. He was full of ideas and always exploring new things. He knew how to live."

Described as an artist in the truest sense of the word by those who knew him, Totah was well-respected and loved both at an individual level and within his industry, girlfriend Deborah Godert said.

"Larry was the kindest, most generous, caring, talented, humble and wonderful individual I've ever met," she added. "He was way ahead of his time with his designs and a perfectionist in the best sense of perfection. He brought so much to my life: incredible love, knowledge and direction. He was a role model to so many."

After attending Victoria College, Totah went on to study architecture and design at the University of Houston, UCLA and the Southern California Institute of Architecture. By 1981, he had his own practice, Totah Design, Inc. and soon became one of the most sought-after architects in L.A. and beyond.

"Larry was exceptionally gifted. He was intense, emotional and very talented," his friend Orhan Ayyuce said. "Architecture for him was his world."

Among Totah's numerous accomplishments were his design for Maxfield, a trend setting L.A. boutique, Odeum Night Club in Tokyo and a client list that included renown hair stylist Vidal Sassoon, director Barry Levinson and actor Dustin Hoffman. Totah also developed several modern furniture lines that are now considered collector's items.

"He was very well organized, meticulous and refined, which is what attracted many celebrity clients to him," Totah's cousin, Suheil Shatara said. "He was incredibly intense and unwilling to settle. He made everything the best it could possibly be."

Although he had lived in L.A. for most of his adult life, Totah never lost certain elements of his Texan nature, he added.

"He loved to barbecue. It was his Texas roots," Shatara said. "He would always cook for his friends."

Totah is survived by his parents, George Margaret Totah and his brother, Keith Totah, all of Victoria.

A rosary will be recited for Totah at 7 p.m. Friday at Grace Funeral Home. A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Victory Cathedral. Burial will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.

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