Like fireworks, the creative force that is Lawrence Isaac Benjamin Green burst forth onto the scene of Independence Day 1960, the youngest son of Clarence “Bubby” and Inez Lemon Green. Born to parents who were actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, Larry gained an understanding of societal inequity at an early age and committed to working against it.
Larry’s father was a complex man who worked as an educator, entrepreneur, and owner of several businesses, one of which was a thriving community barbershop. While he held court with highly esteemed figures in the Civil Rights Movement such as Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Bubby’s barbershop served as the perfect setting to take advantage of common teaching moments to “drop jewels” into the minds of any wandering, or younger brothers who would accept. Having spent much of his free time there sweeping the floors to earn extra money and gleaning from his dad’s conversations, he became a visionary with a drive to ‘make it happen.’ Learned directly from his dad, as many of you know, Larry always had a story to tell, with an uplifting lesson attached.
Larry’s mother, Inez, was a singer who performed recitals and trained him and his brothers to do the same, so Larry became a lover of music at a very early age. It is said that upon waking up in the morning as an infant, instead of crying for his bottle or having a diaper changed, he would sing! As Larry got older, he enjoyed popular music of the time and passionately listened to groups like The Spinners and The Manhattans.
In school, Larry was a quick study whose borderline genius allowed him to complete classroom assignments with accuracy and still have time to goof off. It was during one of those silly times that he would unknowingly meet his future wife, Wanda who was “in class, doing her work.”
Ever precocious, by the time he was fourteen, Larry had earned himself a place in the prestigious Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art where he met lifelong friends Kurtis “Blow” Walker and Russell Simmons (who was a student at City College). Within a few years, Larry and Kurtis left off their studies and began pursuing their passions; Kurtis as an artist, and Larry as an artist and writer. It was around this time, at age 17 that Larry and Wanda fell in love as they set off on the adventure of a lifetime.
In the early years of their courtship, Larry resumed his education and along with Wanda went to Touro College, also doing a stint in the Army National Guard. In an effort to capitalize on Larry’s musical expertise, in 1985, Larry’s friend Russell Simmons signed him to both writing and artist contracts on Russell’s and partner Rick Rubin’s Def Jam Records. As it happened, over the several years-long courses of Larry’s dual contracts, he wrote, composed, and collaborated on classics, including his favorite, “If I Rule the World (which he also sang)”, and launched the label into the music industry’s spotlight with his original composition of “I Need Love.” “Larry’s a legend. He was instrumental in the very creation of Def Jam”—Doug E. Fresh
A born entrepreneur, Larry once said, “I could sell a drowning man a glass of water,” and it was true, Larry’s salesmanship was extraordinary. By the time Larry and Wanda started a family welcoming Young Larry into the world on Christmas day in 1985, they were living on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx and Larry soon opened Harlem’s first dry club while simultaneously working as a medic at Harlem Hospital. In ensuing years, he would take up an administrative post at Bronx Health Plan hitting record sales numbers until, expecting their second child, Lawrin, Wanda and Larry decided to relocate to South Carolina, a more wholesome environment in which to raise their family.
Larry was his own person. This is evidenced by his larger-than-life presence, gregarious personality, loud singing, wry wit, the sincerity of heart, outstanding intellect, and loving energy, to name a few traits. Larry would do anything he could to help his fellow man, and could also be counted on to be the life of the party. An avid sports enthusiast, Larry loved the New York Knicks, and ESPN was among his favorite channels.
Larry took the example of his parents who fought tirelessly for the health of their community and carried the charge with love and poise.
A devoted husband and father, Larry made sure his children grew up knowing that they could always be fully themselves, and loved unconditionally throughout the process.
He encouraged his wife to open businesses based on the knowledge she had acquired. He supported her in every endeavor she set her sights on. “He was an excellent chef, cooking for us all, and was a true knight in shining armor. Whenever I missed a beat, he was there to catch me. He’s my protector. I’ve honestly never been afraid because he’s always had my back,” says Wanda.
Known as the “cool dad,” Larry could be found grilling for Lawrin and Young Larry’s summer pool parties, coaching their basketball teams, funding tournaments, scheduling daddy-daughter dates, and cooking breakfast in the mornings for neighborhood kids before ushering them off to the bus stop for school.
He raised a family that loves him, invested earnestly in his community, cared for others beyond measure, and launched not one, but multiple successful businesses. And for this model, we are better for having known him.
Larry leaves to cherish memories a loving wife, Wanda Green; son, Lawrence Green; daughter, Lawrin Green; grandchildren, Lawrence Green III, Jade-Mari Green, and Morgan Allie Green; brother, John-Martin Green; nephews, Phillip Green and Robert Campbell; and a host of cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews, and friends.
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