Joseph C. Larose, the longtime associate editor and editorial writer of the Clarion Herald, died Feb. 18 at Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center. Larose was 87 and had been married for 50 years to Ermine Frink Larose.
A native of Thibodaux, Larose joined the staff of the Clarion Herald in March 1965, first as a columnist covering entertainment, media and the arts. His column, titled "Sights and Sounds," provided a personal take from a Catholic perspective on movies, theater productions and television shows.
His first column on March 18, 1965, reviewed the upcoming Gulf States release of "The Greatest Story Ever Told," which, he told readers, ran for 221 minutes. That meant, with intermission, it would be a "four-hour movie."
"While Christ's earthly existence began without fanfare – no publicity agents heralded his coming in the capitals of Rome, Athens, Alexandria or Jerusalem – the 'Greatest Story' commercial venture in spite of its theme, has had its share of promotional hullabaloo," he wrote.
Described by one local newspaper as "the conscience of local theater," his exactness with language always shone through. The former high school English and French teacher held a master's degree in English from Fordham University.
He began writing the Clarion Herald's editorials in 1975 and continued in that capacity even after he retired from full-time work in 1993.
"I've always been interested in reading and writing, so the idea of communicating was very appealing," Larose said in a December 1993 article that announced his retirement after 28 years at the Clarion Herald. He was hired by Msgr. Elmo Romagosa, the former executive editor, to write the entertainment column.
Some of his candid reviews caused a controversy. At a time when the movie industry was undergoing profound changes in terms of acceptable limits of nudity, violence and language, Larose praised "The Pawnbroker," "Dr. Zhivago" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" even though the films created a stir among some in the Catholic community.
"I was criticized for praising 'Dr. Zhivago," but it really was a very moral movie," he said. "Zhivago recognized his liaison was wrong, but in his human weakness, he fell. 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?' broke the barrier of language. That movie was almost painful in its reflection of human nature and the extreme bitterness that can exist in a marriage. Yet, the couple needed each other."
Larose said what was felt to be obscene 30 years ago probably would receive no more than a PG rating today.
"The human body itself is something beautiful," he said. "But now the nudity and the continued repetition of crude language and the explicit use of names of Jesus and God has lost all its shock value. There's no intellectual or artistic value in most movies. Those things are used just for box office purposes. We live in a cult of ugliness and real hatred of anything that's moral and good."
Larose said it is the critical role of the Catholic press to inform and intellectually feed a laity hungry for answers to life's problems.
"It's important that we not only show the views of the leaders in the church but also get some feedback from what today is a very dedicated, thoughtful and very religious people, for whom religion is not a sometime thing," Larose said.
Larose is the brother of Mary Lou Mire and the late Adele Larose, Edward Larose and Francis Hugh Larose. He is the brother-in-law of Joyce Frink Glueck and Charles G. Glueck.
Larose was a brother of the Sacred Heart for 16 years and also taught at Holy Cross School. He was a longtime parishioner of St. Clement of Rome Church and more recently at St. Pius X Church.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend the visitation and funeral Mass at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd., on Feb. 24. Visitation will begin at 11 a.m., followed by a funeral Mass in the chapel at 1 p.m. Interment will follow.
In lieu of flowers, Masses are preferred.