Lawrence R. Rose, shop­ping mall con­trac­tor and op­er­a­tor

The Buffalo News - - OBITUARIES - By Jonathan D. Ep­stein

Lawrence R. Rose, who re­built and man­aged sev­eral prom­i­nent area shop­ping cen­ters, died March 20 in Buf­falo Gen­eral Med­i­cal Cen­ter af­ter com­pli­ca­tions fol­low­ing a short ill­ness. He was 91.

Mr. Rose spent much of his ca­reer in com­mer­cial con­struc­tion with a fo­cus on shop­ping malls, work­ing for sev­eral con­trac­tors and re­tail op­er­a­tors in Buf­falo, Or­lando, Puerto Rico and Ohio. He over­saw the trans­for­ma­tions of Lock­port Mall, Rain­bow Cen­ter, Seneca Mall and Sum­mit Park Mall, and han­dled man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing and leas­ing for those and other cen­ters.

“He was work­ing in prop­erty man­age­ment up un­til his death,” said his daugh­ter, Su­san Wenger. “He was sharp as a tack, right up un­til the end.”

He also man­aged con­do­minium as­so­ci­a­tions and sold com­mer­cial real es­tate. And he learned to play the vi­o­lin in his ‘80s, af­ter never be­fore pick­ing up an in­stru­ment.

“He never wanted to stop learn­ing. He kept so busy. He was al­ways read­ing or watch­ing doc­u­men­taries,” Wenger said. “At that time in his life, he wanted to do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent.”

Born on the first day of sum­mer in 1927 in Toledo, Mr. Rose grew up in Colum­bus, Ohio, and joined the U.S. Navy af­ter high school. He re­mained in ac­tive re­serve but also worked many jobs in high school and col­lege in re­tail sales and rail­roads.

In col­lege at Ohio State Uni­ver­sity, Mr. Rose was ac­tive in ADS Fra­ter­nity, a pro­fes­sional mar­ket­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion, and in the New­man Club, where he met his fu­ture wife, Kath­leen Marmion. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in mar­ket­ing and ad­min­is­tra­tion, he joined a mar­ket re­search firm in Prince­ton, N.J. and then worked for Dr. Ge­orge Gallup, do­ing a po­lit­i­cal sur­vey in Michi­gan us­ing one of the first ran­dom-sam­pling tech­niques that nearly pre­dicted the ac­tual vote.

He worked in sales and mar­ket­ing in Pitts­burgh and Chicago be­fore mov­ing to Buf­falo as sales man­ager of an out­door ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany so he could be closer to fam­ily.

In Buf­falo, Mr. Rose joined a con­struc­tion con­trac­tor of preengi­neered But­ler Build­ings, erect­ing sev­eral struc­tures be­fore the owner went into the mall busi­ness. That’s when Mr. Rose be­came mar­ket­ing man­ager for the Main Place Mall in down­town Buf­falo. He ob­tained a “cer­ti­fied mar­ket­ing direc­tor” ac­cred­i­ta­tion from Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona and a “cer­ti­fied shop­ping cen­ter” ac­cred­i­ta­tion from Michi­gan State Uni­ver­sity.

He and his wife moved their fam­ily to Florida when he was asked by de­vel­oper Leonard L. Farber to build and open Or­lando Fash­ion Square but moved back to Buf­falo to re­build Lock­port Mall for Gen­eral Growth Prop­er­ties af­ter de­cid­ing they needed bet­ter schools for their young chil­dren. Two years into the re­vi­tal­iza­tion ef­fort, Gen­eral Growth asked him to open Plaza Carolina, a 1-mil­lion-square-foot mall with in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“It was a chal­lenge with the cul­ture dif­fer­ence, the lan­guage, but it was en­joy­able,” Mr. Rose wrote in pre­par­ing his own obit­u­ary. “As our youngest son said, ‘It was the long­est va­ca­tion he ever had.’ “

Af­ter com­plet­ing Plaza Carolina in two years, Mr. Rose and his fam­ily re­turned to Western New York to fin­ish Lock­port Mall, adding a depart­ment store and even­tu­ally 40 other re­tail­ers. Then he was hired to con­vert a tra­di­tional mall into a fac­tory out­let mall at Rain­bow Cen­ter in Ni­a­gara Falls, com­plet­ing most of it be­fore Si­mon Co. asked him to re­vi­tal­ize the Seneca Mall in West Seneca. He man­aged and mar­keted that prop­erty for sev­eral years un­til Gen­eral Growth took over.

Then he used his com­mer­cial real es­tate bro­kers’ li­cense for sev­eral years be­fore Gen­eral Growth brought him on to tackle Sum­mit Park Mall in Ni­a­gara Falls, while also serv­ing as gen­eral man­ager of Salem Mall in Day­ton, Ohio — trav­el­ing there ev­ery other week — un­til that was sold.

He then man­aged condo as­so­ci­a­tions and re­turned to sell­ing com­mer­cial real es­tate through a com­pany he formed in 2005, Re­liant Prop­erty Man­age­ment LLC, while also work­ing with Sum­mit Park.

In the com­mu­nity, Mr. Rose was past-pres­i­dent of the West

Seneca Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional Club, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that “he was most pas­sion­ate about,” Wenger said. She re­called her fa­ther start­ing a suc­cess­ful fundrais­ing ini­tia­tive through Ro­tary to end po­lio and erad­i­cate guinea worm dis­ease in the African na­tion of Ghana by drilling new wells to pro­vide clean wa­ter. He was also a board mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Red Cross, past-pres­i­dent of the New­man Cen­ter Men’s Club, and a vol­un­teer reader for Ni­a­gara Fron­tier Ra­dio Read­ing Ser­vice for the blind.

Mr. Rose was pas­sion­ate about a 1931 Ford Model A car that he owned and show­cased at var­i­ous ex­hibits.

In ad­di­tion to his wife of 63 years and Wenger, he is sur­vived by three other daugh­ters, Maureen R. Twist, Colleen R. Healy and Sheila M. Barnes; two sons, Kevin C. and Brian M.; and nine grand­chil­dren.

Prayers will be of­fered at 9:15 a.m. this morn­ing at the Amigone Fu­neral Home, 5200 Sheri­dan Drive, Amherst, fol­lowed by a Mass of Christian Burial in the Uni­ver­sity at Buf­falo New­man Cen­ter, 495 Skin­nersville Road, Amherst, at 10 a.m.

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