Veteran local journalist Barbara Diamond, 88, of Stu News Laguna Beach died Wednesday, the media outlet’s publisher said.
The storied newswoman and grand marshall of the 2020 Patriot’s Day Parade died at her Diamond Street home, said Shaena Stabler, publisher and editor of Stu News. In recent days, she was writing an obituary about fellow long-time Laguna Beach resident Al Roberts.
“[Barbara] is somebody who made this town feel smaller and more connected through what she did,“ Stabler said. “She was everything great about journalism. She loved this town and this town loved her too. I think she knew that.”
Born Nov. 2, 1932, Diamond started honing her reporting skills while attending junior high school in San Francisco, where she wrote newsletters for a class. Diamond lived in Marin County for years while married to her ex-husband, who owned a magazine about professional tennis. She convinced him to also cover female players.
She visited Laguna Beach on a vacation during her divorce and loved it so much she decided to buy a cottage.
For over 40 years, Diamond’s reporting was a fixture in the community. Her work was published in several local papers, including the former Laguna News-Post and the Coastline Pilot.
John Canalis, an assistant managing editor at the Los Angeles Times, met Diamond when he joined Times Community News in 2010. She had already been writing for the news group’s Coastline Pilot for a while.
“Few people embody their surnames quite like Barbara Diamond,” Canalis wrote in a message. “She could cut through political rhetoric and get to the heart of any story. She somehow knew everyone and everything in Laguna.”
As an editor, Canalis found Diamond was possessive of her stories in the best way.
“She’d fight you on every change, and she was usually right,” he wrote.
In 2016, Diamond started her most recent job with Stu News Laguna at 83 years old after returning to Laguna Beach from a nearly three-year hiatus in Marin County to be closer to her son Paul, who died of pancreatic cancer, according to the Daily Pilot.
Wearing her signature red blazer and rose-colored glasses, Diamond reported on virtually every city council meeting up until the outbreak of the coronavirus. She asked every person who shared public comments to write their names down on a notepad after they left the podium.
With the number of COVID-19 vaccinations on the rise, Diamond looked forward to being able to return to the City Council Chambers to continue her work of covering local government, Stabler said.
While her reporter whom she called “irreplaceable” won’t be at her side going forward, Stabler said she plans to honor her legacy by continuing to publish Laguna Beach happenings.
“[Barbara] was like the fabric that tied everything together for over 40 years,” she said.
Former Laguna Beach Mayor Elizabeth Pearson said she was deeply saddened to learn Diamond died after knowing her 30 years.
As an elected official, Pearson found herself on the other side of Diamond’s notebook.
“[Barbara] was always fair and tried to get every side of the story,” Pearson said. “She tried to never show her own bias. She did but tried not to. Of course, I could always count on her to quote me accurately.”
They became close friends in 2005 after Pearson offered to host Diamond’s birthday party. A group of Laguna Beach women who attended that party founded a Birthday Club to celebrate birthdays monthly.
Barbara enjoyed taking limousine rides to Del Mar racetrack to watch horse races with her friends. They’ve even vacationed on the Jersey Shore together.
“We’re all just devastated because we got to know each other so well,” Pearson said.
One memory that still makes Pearson chuckle was spotting Diamond drive around town in her red Ford Mustang with license plates bearing her initials, “BFD,” which typically signal a colorful turn of phrase. On at least one occasion, Laguna Beach police officers stopped her to compliment her on the acronym.
When she wasn’t busy reporting, Diamond enjoyed gardening, playing with her West Highland White Terriers, and reading mystery novels.
Her son Paul Diamond preceded her in death, as did her grandson Brian. She is survived by two sons: Kevin Diamond, of Sausalito and Kenny Diamond, of Corte Madero, and daughter-in-law Chris Diamond; grandchildren Julie, Scott Diamond, Kaitlyn Diamond, Kelsey Diamond, Lindsey Diamond, and Nicholas Diamond; and great-grandson Tyler.
She is also survived by nephews Jeff Hadlich, of Laguna Beach; John Hadlich of Redmond, Oregon; and Joel Hadlich of Huntington Beach; as well as niece Janine Conners of Dana Point; and sister-in-law Patsy Hadlich of Dana Point.
This story is developing and will be updated as needed.