Francis Leo Lawrence
AGE: 75 • Mount Laurel
Francis Leo Lawrence died peacefully following an illness on April 16, 2013, at his home in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, with his beloved wife of 54 years, Mary Kay, and his daughter, Naomi, by his side. He was 75 years old. "Fran", was born in 1937 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the fifth child and only son of Anthony and Eldora Lawrence. He attended Mount Saint Charles High School where he played hockey and was a star pitcher on the baseball team. He was inducted into the Mount Saint Charles Hall of Fame in 2005. Fran received his bachelor's degree in French and Spanish from St. Louis University in 1959 and his Ph.D. in French Classical Literature from Tulane
University in 1962. He rose through Tulane's academic and administrative ranks to full professor, chairman of the French and Italian department, Dean of Newcomb College, Dean of the Graduate School and Provost. In 1990, he was appointed president of Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey. In 2002, he returned to academia and became a Rutgers University Professor. While on the Rutgers faculty, he authored Leadership in Higher Education: Views from the Presidency, a collection of interviews with presidents and chancellors of leading universities. Fran's career and academic accomplishments were stellar, but he was most proud of his family -- his four sisters and their spouses: Dorothy (deceased), Juliette Bernier (Leo), Madeline Nasuti (Joey) and Sr. Theresa Lawrence; his children: Elizabeth Lawrence (deceased), Dr. Christopher Lawrence (Linda), Dr. Naomi Lawrence (Jerry Franz), and Jennifer Lawrence (Rick Torres); and his thirteen grandchildren: Joshua, Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth Hurley; Jeremy Bazile; Jeffrey, Gary and Kelsey Lawrence; Michael, Mark and Lucas Franz; and Isabel, Jacob and Marisol Torres.
Fran loved playing, coaching and watching baseball. In his earlier years, Fran coached baseball at the Carrollton Boosters Club in New Orleans, leading his son Chris' eleven year old team to a City Championship. In his later years, Fran coached his New Jersey grandsons' little league baseball teams in Mount Laurel. Fran and Mary Kay took great joy in attending every sporting event, recital, graduation, and first communion for their grandkids. Fran will be remembered for his energy, dedication, integrity, and his particularly booming laugh. He grew beautiful roses, told fabulous, if slightly embellished, stories to his grandchildren mostly about his childhood dog, Trixie. His family loved him very, very much and will miss him even more.
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday April 28th at 9:00 a.m. at the Kirkpatrick Chapel at Rutgers University, 83 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901. Donations may be made in his memory to the Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, The Spinal Cord Injury Project, 604 Allison Road, D-251 Piscataway, New Jersey 08854.