Services set Friday for businessman Bob Lawrence

Robert M. Lawrence Sr. is being remembered as a man dedicated to the betterment of Salisbury and Wicomico County, but also a fun-loving boater and go-kart racer who enjoyed speed.

The 86-year-old former owner of Lawrence Volkswagen Audi Mazda, and Bob Lawrence Car Wash and Pre-owned Cars, died Sunday.

“I knew him very well,” Dr. Ray Hoy, president of Wor-Wic Community College, said. “He was a really wonderful person.

“I learned a great deal from him. He was on the Board of Directors here from the inception of the college until 2011. He is a founder along with Dr. (Arnold) Maner, Bob Cook and several others.

“He served as chairman for 12 years, six times, and longer than anybody else,” Hoy said.

“He was very outgoing, gregarious, always had a story. He was just an interesting character who always kept things very lively.

“He had a strong affinity for the college,” Hoy said.

Lawrence was chairman of the site committee that determined where the Wor-Wic campus would be.

“He was a pilot in the service. He loved anything that went fast, including his car. I thought the world of him,” Hoy said, remembering Lawrence had a boat brought up the Choptank River and transformed it into a restaurant.

Dave Ryan, Director of Salisbury-Wicomico County Economic Development, said Lawrence was one of the founders of that organization when it started in 1968.

“I knew him a little bit, but I remember him as being pro-Salisbury. He was pro-business and not afraid to throw his hat in the ring and step up to the plate to help the broader community,” Ryan said.

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver said the county is “very fortunate to have had a leader such as Mr. Lawrence that was willing to work and make the county a better place.”

“Mr. Lawrence was the first person I recognized as a Republican and he remained active in the party,” Culver said.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering, and Beacon Bible College, where he earned a master’s degree in theology, Lawrence served in the ROTC and later was a captain in the U.S. Air Force.

He was trustee for the National Association of Community Colleges, on the Board of Directors for the Bank of Delmarva, a Salisbury Rotary Club and Paul Harris Award Recipient, Maryland Quality Auto Dealer of the Year and the National Runner Up for Time Magazine Dealer of the Year and youngest Volkswagen franchise holder.

Later, he was president of the National Independent Auto Dealership Association.

He was a Wicomico County Councilman from 1972-1974 and appointed by Gov. Spiro Agnew to represent Maryland on a trade mission to seven European countries.

In his obituary, he is remembered as loving go-kart racing with his children, attending NASCAR races, being an accomplished hydro-plane boat racer and traveling and camping with his wife, Shirley, and family, before his wife’s death.

“He also enjoyed dancing with the love of his life, Shirley. He never missed a grandchild’s sporting event, school activity or dance recital. In his later years, he was a mentor to his grandchildren, especially Patrick, as well as many others. He enjoyed sharing popcorn and ice cream with his great-granddaughter Finley,” his obituary states.

Survivors include his son, Robert Marion Lawrence Jr., and two daughters, Richie Marie Lawrence and Dixie Lawrence Pinette.

Visitation will be today from 5 to 7 p.m. at Holloway Funeral Home.

The funeral will be Friday at noon at Delmarva Evangelistic Church, with burial at Wicomico Memorial Park.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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