Daniel Archuleta, our jack-of-all-trades managing editor, died Wednesday morning. We are grieving. His family is grieving. Any attempt to sum up his contributions to our newspaper and to our lives will fall short. But he loved the Santa Monica community and we needed to let you know of his passing.
Daniel began contributing to the Daily Press in 2007.
He wrote – particularly about his beloved Samohi sports teams. He edited, with a meticulous eye for AP Style. (“It’s like fingernails on the chalkboard,” he’d say of spelled-out numbers over nine and unshortened ‘Avenues’ and ‘Streets.’) He took photos, always favoring the wide, soulful shot. He ‘put the paper to bed’ while listening to funk or hip-hop or anything with a beat.
In the over-caffeinated news world he was cool under fire. He smiled. He laughed loud and often. Everyone talks about his laugh.
He told great stories about big Samohi basketball wins and did spot-on impersonations of local politicians.
Kevin Herrera, the Daily Press’ former editor-in-chief, worked alongside Daniel for seven years.
“At times it was disheartening, I was discouraged, but Daniel always pumped me up, offered support, a smile and that laugh,” he said. “He had a gift to make the problems seem small in comparison to what was really important. For him, that was his lovely wife and two beautiful young girls, whom he cherished more than anything. No matter how busy we were, he always took the time to talk with his wife and his girls, encouraging them, listening to them as they talked about their days, the issues they were having at school. He was a real man, putting family first and doing whatever he could to provide for them.”
He loved design, layout and going out into the community to take pictures, Kevin said.
“He had immense enthusiasm for local sports and a real love for the kids he covered while at the Daily Press,” Kevin said. “He rooted for them, always wanting them to succeed and oftentimes holding back certain details out of concern for the kids, the teams and the coaches. He was a true homer, always rooting for his Santa Monica teams to advance in the playoffs and had great pride when those teams went on to win titles, as if he too was on the squad.”
Mike Tittinger was Daniel’s first editor at the Daily Press.
“When Daniel first walked into our newsroom in 2007, I knew I had a partner in crime,” he said. “With his ready laugh, there was a lightness about him. He carried himself with an easy air that put my own stress level at ease.”
Daniel avoided the jadedness that often comes with working journalism, Mike said.
“It brings about a dark, gallows humor, a cynicism. But none of that seemed to touch Daniel,” he said. “He remained genial and approachable. We was kind to everyone, especially our student interns, where he shined as a mentor. He’d sit and make time for them rather than reach for the editor’s red pen.”
Paul Alvarez, a Daily Press photographer, met Daniel at a Samohi football game. A college student at the time, Paul gave Daniel some photos he’d taken at the game and Daniel used them in the paper. Daniel took Paul under his wing.
“He truly seemed like he wanted to help me and started giving me more assignments to see what else I could do,” Paul said. “After each assignment he would give me feedback on what he liked, which I needed. The more I did assignments for him, the closer we became and shortly after our relationship had snowballed into a friendship. He always joked with me and he always called me ‘mijo’ (son in Spanish.) I no longer saw him as my boss but more of a brother and mentor.”
No matter how busy Daniel was, Paul said, he always stopped to talk to people about their lives.
“There’s so much to say about such a funny, smart and talented man,” Paul said. “We would always make fun of each other, and he would make fun of me for being a New York Yankee fan and I would make fun of him for being a Los Angeles Dodger fan.”
Paul attributes his career as a photographer to Daniel’s support and guidance.
“He’s one of the greatest human beings I have ever come across in my life,” he said.
“I rarely saw him in a bad mood or sour,” Kevin said. “He knew that he had a great family and that kept it all in perspective for him. Why he had to leave us so soon, I will never know. It doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem fair. He gave so much to Santa Monica. I hope that the people of this community realize how much he sacrificed and how much of himself he gave to Santa Monica.”
Mike, as with Paul, Kevin, and many others, made clear that Daniel was a family man first.
“I’d love to say Daniel was a ready wingman after work, saying ‘Hey, Mikey T, let’s blow off steam with a few drinks.’ But he wasn’t,” Mike said. “He preferred heading home to spend time with his family, the newspaper put to bed, his job complete.”
Daily Press Publisher, Ross Furukawa, lauded his contributions.
“Daniel’s work touched everyone, whether they knew it or not,” he said. “He was a pro, and helped us craft news into sharable, repeatable stories.”
We at the Daily Press are crushed. It’s still early, especially for his family, and we still know very little other than the fact that we lost a great friend – an institution at the paper.
We know that without Daniel we will get more use out of our AP Stylebooks, our photos will be less creative, and the newsroom will be a little bit quieter.
Daniel is survived by his wife, Gali, and two beautiful daughters, Lila and Gaby, and a large, loving family.
Mike Jennings, a close, lifelong friend of Daniel, has set up a memorial fund to help the Archuleta family cope with this very unexpected loss.
The Daily Press respectfully asks our Santa Monica community, whom Daniel has contributed to in so many ways, to help by donating to this fund to assist his family through this difficult time.
You can donate at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/cp6Eb
We will publish updated information regarding services and memorial activities as soon as it becomes available.