DALLAS — Lawrence Marcus was extolled as a man of brilliant ideas, intense curiosity and exceptional taste Monday afternoon at a memorial service at the Dallas Museum of Art attended by friends, family and past and present Neiman Marcus executives.
This story first appeared in the November 12, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“He was the final link to a generation of retail visionaries as the last surviving son of Herbert Marcus and the nephew of Carrie Marcus Neiman, the founders of the store, a place that has been the pride of Dallas for over 100 years,” said Karen Katz, chief executive office of Neiman Marcus Group, in her opening remarks. “Lawrence personified his father’s values of excellence, his aunt’s belief in serving the customer and his brother Stanley’s unending quest for the best.”
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Marcus’ thoughtful design and merchandising of the Houston Galleria store during its construction in the early Seventies “set the tone for excellence that still makes our Houston Galleria store one of our most important and successful to this day,” she noted.
Marcus threw memorable parties at his art-filled Houston home, she said, entertaining Pauline Trigère, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, James Galanos and prominent Houstonians. He personally tended to the property’s 2.5-acre garden and its 5,000 tulips and daffodils, she noted.
Mike Mullins read a letter of gratitude that his sister-in-law had once posted to Marcus.
“You introduced me to so many wonderful, beautiful and special things, opening doors to extraordinary experiences and knowledge,” wrote Melissa Heath Mullins, who had worked for Marcus when he managed the Dallas flagship in the late Seventies.
Glen Holden, former ambassador to Jamaica, called Marcus “one of the most unusual men I’ve ever known.”
“There is no subject, no event and no person that Lawrence wasn’t interested in,” Holden said. “I always thought if you have a plan or a program, take it to Lawrence Marcus because he’ll tell you all the new things about it and suggest ideas.”
An avid polo player, Holden recalled how a friend asked him to bring polo back to Houston in the Sixties. He brought the proposal to Marcus, a neophyte who took lessons, hired a young pro, bought a string of horses and “played with us every day that he possibly could,” Holden recalled.
When Marcus heard that polo had once been played on the National Mall in Washington, he wanted to bring it back.
“And sure enough we did…in 1969,” Holden said. “We took 25 horses for an exhibition game. It’s still being played there.”
The playing of “Taps” and a slow, silent flag-folding ceremony by an honor guard paid tribute to Marcus’ decorated U.S. Army service during World War II. Finally, a string quartet played “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and Marcus’ widow, Shelby, was escorted from the auditorium in tears.