Robert Lawrence

Robert Lawrence
World Trade Center

Athlete and Organizer

Robert Lawrence was infused with energy, and boy, could he organize. He lived in Summit, N.J., where he happened to have grown up, an area scattered with parents, cousins, aunts, uncles. He was the nucleus. "He would organize a Christmas lunch that started at noon, and before it ended it would be midnight," said his wife, Suzanne.

A talented athlete, Mr. Lawrence played competitive tennis in college. As an adult, he continued to play tennis as well as hockey. He liked to win.

He imparted this competitive spirit to his son, Bobby, 9, as he coached him in his own hockey beginnings. The two of them went to a father-son hockey camp during the summer.

He was attentive, as well, to his daughter, Toland, 11. He liked to play the guitar to wind down, but also to entertain her. At night, he would invent songs for her. When she was a little younger, the two collaborated on the not overly well-known number "I Love Noodles."

Mr. Lawrence, 41, used to work in New Jersey for a financial firm, and wanted nothing to do with heights. Nonetheless, he took a new job as a managing director at Sandler O'Neill & Partners, on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center. His first day was Sept. 10.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 21, 2001.

Robert Lawrence Jr., 41, a protector

Robert Appleton Lawrence Jr. took his role as the elder brother seriously.

Sometimes too seriously.

He thwarted any chance for his kid sister to have a social life, she recalled yesterday, chuckling.

"My brother was very overprotective," said Elizabeth Lawrence Anderson of Menlo Park, Calif. "If anybody ever called the house, he would pretty much screen the calls. Most of the guys wouldn't call anymore. They were afraid of my brother.

"He was like that with all of our family," she said. "Very protective."

Mr. Lawrence, 41, of Summit died in the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. He had only recently started his job there as a mortgage-backed securities specialist for Sandler, O'Neill & Son.

His death came as a blow to his large family, all of whom recounted Mr. Lawrence's big heart.

"We have a very large extended family," said cousin David Lawrence of Summit. "Bob was kind of the glue. The most important thing to him was his daughter, son and his wife. And all the rest of his family."

"My brother embodied the spirit of our whole family, he brought us together time after time," Mr. Lawrence's brother, Ned, said.

"And he had a sense of humor. He could take a joke," he added.

Ned Lawrence remembered a paddle tennis tournament his brother and his uncle won at Beacon Hill Country Club in Summit about eight years ago.

"Uncle Jack was about 60 at the time. Bobby was about 33. They beat the other team. It was a big thrill for Bobby to play with his uncle and then to win," Ned Lawrence said, noting his brother liked all racquet sports and hockey.

Mr. Lawrence had worked for Hanover Trade in Edison and had been in the securities field since he graduated from the University of Vermont in 1982.

"He loved music," said David Lawrence. "He would always play his guitar at family gatherings. He was just a generous, thoughtful, wonderful guy."

Mr. Lawrence is also survived by his wife, Suzanne Burns Lawrence; children, Toland, 12, and Bobby, 9; his parents, Eileen and Robert Appleton Lawrence Sr. of Weston, Conn.; and parents-in-law, Peter and Ann Burns of Naples, Fla.

Profile by Debra Dowling published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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