January 04, 2011
Rollins remembers and salutes Samuel B. Lawrence, a noted Central Florida businessman, avid art collector, renowned dog owner, and longtime supporter of Rollins College, Lake Highland Preparatory School, Florida Hospital and Holderness School. Lawrence died at home on
Sunday, January 2. A memorial service was held on Wednesday,
January 5 at Rollins in the Knowles Memorial Chapel and was attended by members of the Central Florida and Rollins communities.
Born in Russia on May 10, 1921, Lawrence and his late mother, Eunice Haiman Lichtenstein Haas, entered the United States in 1925. Raised in Connecticut, Washington State, New York and Philadelphia, he was introduced to Orlando in the late 1930s by his mother, who wintered here.
Educated at George Washington High School, Lawrence went on to serve with distinction as a member of the United States Marine Corps in World War II. He later became a grower of shade tobacco in the Connecticut River Valley and served as a two-term representative in the Connecticut State Legislature. The novel Parrish, written by his cousin Mildred Savage, was inspired by his life and was the basis for the movie of the same name, for which he served as technical advisor.
In 1959, Lawrence and his former wife, the late Lois Becker Lawrence Odence, moved to Orlando with their two daughters. Lawrence invested at that time in the fledging Budget Rent A Car Company. Eventually, a major portion of Budget's corporate structure was moved to Orlando and, as executive vice president, Lawrence oversaw its rapid growth into a worldwide corporation. When Budget was sold to Transamerica Corporation, he became an investor and executive with Major Realty, a prominent real estate development firm in Central Florida.
Since 1968, Lawrence had been certified as an AKC multi-breed judge. He and his wife Marion, whom he married in 1970, were owners of numerous championship dogs, among them most notably the wire-haired fox terrier Lacey, winner of the 1992 Best in Show award at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Their Pembroke corgi Kevin was awarded first in the herding group at Westminster in 2006.
Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence assembled an outstanding collection of American art. Many of their paintings and sculptures have been shown at Rollins’ Cornell Fine Arts Museum and at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. The Lawrences have made numerous gifts of art to the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Other gifts to Rollins include the Samuel B. Lawrence Center and the Ruth duPont Terrace. Lawrence was named a CHIEF (Champion of Higher Education in Florida) by the presidents of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida in 1993 and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Rollins in 1995.
"Sam Lawrence was a generous lifelong supporter of Rollins, our students and our community,” said Rollins President Lewis M. Duncan. “His vision for education is a significant part of our college's past, present and future. He will be missed greatly and remembered fondly by the many his life has touched."
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Lawrence's honor may be made to the Samuel B. Lawrence Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o President Lewis Duncan, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL 32789.
Read more about Samuel B. Lawrence in the Orlando Sentinel.