David Warner and Larry Biddle are omnipresent agents for change in Tampa Bay

Best of the Bay 2020: 16 people or places that've undoubtedly changed Tampa Bay for the better.

click to enlarge David Warner (L) and Larry Biddle. - Nick Cardello
Nick Cardello
David Warner (L) and Larry Biddle.

All hail the happy warriors! If David Warner and Larry Biddle didn’t exist, it would be wise for us to invent them. I returned to the Bay Area after a multi-decade hiatus in 2010. As a devotee of alt-weeklies, I sought out Creative Loafing and discovered its multi-talented editor. David Warner is a lesson in total immersion in one’s community. And then I learned of Larry Biddle, David’s multi-decade partner and husband as of 2012. These guys are everywhere, fully politically and socially engaged change agents.

Despite pedigrees that link to Merrick Garland (remember him?) at Harvard (David) or ancestral ties to one of Philadelphia’s great families predating our founding fathers (Larry), both gents are firmly rooted in the present. And that present is not about self-aggrandizement, but about lifting up the lives of others.

I realized that David and Larry knew everyone. Their network had vast roots that spread deep and wide—long before social media weaseled its way into our every waking moment. David worked to tell extraordinary stories—to shine a light on the activities and people making a difference in and around the Bay. Larry raised money for a wide range of causes to uplift the underserved and unburden good-hearted folks with much to offer, but without the skills to find the necessary funds to soar.

Warner has seemingly been ubiquitous over their 16 years in the Bay Area. From moderating a conversation with Susan Sarandon at The Dalí to judging for Theatre TampaBay, to serving as the ringmaster for CL’s annual BOTB and Gasp! bashes in days of yore. When CL was sold at the end of 2018, the new business plan meant cleaning house at the top. David got the axe. But, ever the nimble editor, he took his newly available head over to the DuPont Registry and managed to morph the glossy magazine for the well-heeled crowd into an exploration of luxury living that calls upon all his years immersed in our community. They still tease dream cars beyond the reach of mere mortals, but also offer profiles of “People Helping People” and Warner (or Tom DuPont) coaxing tales from the region’s fascinating personalities via dRTB Live.

Biddle used his considerable skills well into his 70s before retiring, but both men remain fierce advocates for all the myriad wonders our region offers. And more importantly, happy warriors for equality in all senses of the word. They are quick to laugh and invariably seen with infectious smiles. Larry’s quick wry and dry wit reflects his keen intelligence. David’s incisive observation skills serve a dual purpose as editor and professional actor. One loss among the many in this year of COVID-19, is the chance to see David as one of Stageworks’ “Twelve Angry Men.” But, if past is prologue, these two will continue to spread the message of our region’s kaleidoscope of gifts and to advocate for all that serves the common good and, by force of will, work to transform our future.

See all winners from Best of the Bay 2020.

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About The Author

Jon Palmer Claridge

Jon Palmer Claridge—Tampa Bay's longest running, and perhaps last anonymous, food critic—has spent his life following two enduring passions, theatre and fine dining. He trained as a theatre professional (BFA/Acting; MFA/Directing) while Mastering the Art of French Cooking from Julia Child as an avocation. He acted...
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