By La Prensa Staff
Richard C. Lange, 67, a former Toledo newspaper editor and musician, passed away unexpectedly February 11, 2023 in the Clearwater, Florida area, which he called home in recent years.
Friends described him as a complicated man, but a gifted journalist and talented musician.
Lange served as the editor of LaPrensa newspaper for three years in the early 1990s, but worked as a professional journalist for the better part of a decade. He may be best known for the five decades he spent as a professional musician in Toledo and the Tampa Bay area. Fellow musicians recognized Lange as a virtuoso jazz guitarist who often led or played jam sessions.
DC Burch worked with Lange at the student newspaper The Collegian when they both attended the University of Toledo. He was an intern at LaPrensa with Lange, and the pair started an alternative weekly newspaper known as The Paper together with a third partner Alan Abrams, who was an accomplished journalist, doing freelance writing for numerous newspapers.
“He was a mentor to me in many ways. I learned a lot from Dick and I still appreciate that,” said Burch. “He brought me along and taught me how to be a real reporter and fearless.” Editor Rico Neller concurred.
Lange earned a journalism degree and a master of fine arts, both from the University of Toledo. According to friends, he also taught music at Adrian College and Siena Heights University.
In late 1997, Lange was hired as production manager at The Downtown Tab in Cleveland, Ohio. He was instrumental in the re-launch of the 80,000-circulation monthly publication.
While working at that publication, he helped design one of the first online malls based on the Cleveland Arcade.
In 1998, six months before the formal incorporation of a small company named Google, Richard Lange started designing and launching websites in Toledo, Ohio. With several partners, one of the first websites they created was for Pulitzer Prize winner and seven-time Grammy winners William Bolcom and Joan Morris.
Richard and his partners went on to launch dozens of websites. He used the first versions of Photoshop and Front Page software. His work laid the foundation for Webcasters.com, a Toledo design company that has now launched more than 375 websites.
Former newspaper co-worker and life-long friend Kelly Rivera molded all those professional roles into the man she remembered fondly.
“He was the master guitarist who could be counted on to fill a gig at the eleventh hour or the journalist who would burn the midnight oil to make deadline,” she said. “He was the music teacher who patiently passed on his wealth of knowledge to a new generation and the warmhearted friend who always had time to lend an ear. He was as endearing as he was mischievous and I will miss knowing he’s no longer in our world filling it with music.”
Lange also played in several bands over the years but became especially known locally as a jazz guitarist, appearing occasionally with colleagues at the old Murphy’s Jazz Lounge downtown.
“He enjoyed the life of a professional musician,” recalled one-time partner Sue Pioch. “He was a driven spirit. He was a good musician, a good guitarist. He was probably the best slide guitar player in this part of the country.”
Steven J. Athanos, who performed with the popular local rock band The Homewreckers, contacted Lange to form The Coosters, what he described as a fun and offbeat band that featured guitarists, a mandolin player, a percussionist, and a tuba. The group lasted less than a year, but recorded an EP. Athanos remembered Lange as a serious and respected musician.
“It was eclectic, we found a niche and got some fans who put up with our shenanigans,” he recalled. The band led the pair to develop a friendship in the mid-1990s. “We could butt heads musically, but I didn’t mind. He was a treat to perform with. He was loosy-goosy and played by his own rules. But he respected his music and the music of others a lot. He always gave that the proper kudos. He was a good guy.”
Los Angeles-based sound producer Gregg Leonard marked Lange’s passing in a Facebook post.
“Godspeed to an old and dear friend. Dick was a foundational and elemental figure in my life,” he wrote. “He was a great and fearless guitar player. Dazzling in all styles and true jazz master.”