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‘Mr. Laguna,’ Harry Lawrence Dies

Harry Lawrence, nicknamed “Mr. Laguna” for pursuing local beautification efforts such as the Main Beach Park, died Sunday at his home in Laguna Beach. He was 98.

A memorial service is set for Saturday, March 31, at 10 a.m. at Laguna Presbyterian Church. A private reception will follow. Burial will follow with

military honors in Corona del Mar’s Pacific View Cemetary.

 

A resident for 65 years, Lawrence devoted himself to many efforts, organizing the cleanup of the Rockledge area, founding a beautification council, pressing for construction of the former South Coast Medical Center, personally co-signing a loan for Laguna Playhouse’s current stage and pushing for the “window to the sea” to establish the Main Beach Park.

His efforts did not go unnoticed, recognized over the years by the Exchange and Rotary clubs, the Chamber of Commerce and in the Patriot’s Day Parade. Former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley also recognized him as one of the co-founders of the International Trade Association.

Despite trips to 155 countries during a career as an antiques dealer, Lawrence always scheduled his flights around  Chamber of Commerce meetings. “You don’t do all the things I’ve done without continuous work,” Lawrence said.

 

Born in San Bernardino and raised in Long Beach, Lawrence initially studied architecture but quit to join the merchant marines and traveled to ports throughout Asia, developing an interest in Oriental antiquities.

He enlisted in the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor, eventually becoming a first lieutenant and making 22 amphibious ship landings.

After the war, Lawrence resumed a job with Fireman’s Fund, but later jumped at the opportunity to buy a gift shop from Laguna friends Earl and Florence Warren.

Under his management, Warren Imports specialized in Asian art and antiques and provided the provenance for Lawrence’s annual trips to China as well as slide presentations about his travels. He retired and closed the Coast Highway store with the distinctive blue-tile roof in 2006.

Lawrence is survived by his wife Zahide; stepchildren Alan Adam of Laguna Beach, and Anil and Kim Adam, of Dana Point; and a granddaughter, Ella Adam.

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