Passings: Eric Lawrence, 1944 – 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE – Eric Lawrence, a fixture of the Fort Lauderdale Gay and Leather Communities, and co-founder of LeatherWerks left this life surrounded by friends and family peacefully on Friday, January 25, 2013 after a long, courageous and graceful battle with cancer.

Born Larry Gene Troutfetter on October 10, 1944 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa son of Frances and Russe…ll Troutfetter, Eric is survived by his husband Ira C. Smith, his step-mother Eileen Troutfetter of Hobe Sound, Florida, brothers William of Des Moines, Iowa and Gary of Bell Plain Minnesota, aunt Ruby Parker of Des Moines, Iowa and countless friends he made part of his family.

Eric called Fort Lauderdale home for decades and he has been a leader in the Gay and Leather Communities in Fort Lauderdale since 1981 long before anyone ever conceived that Gay was not inclusive enough for the LGBTQIAA people of this world.  Eric joined the South Florida Gay Pride Committee in response to Anita Bryant’s continuing attacks on gay civil rights.  Eric’s first high profile roll as a community leader came nearly 30 years ago when he became president of the South Florida Gay Pride Committee in 1984.  The following year Eric continued as President of South Florida Gay Pride and brought the 1985 Gay Pride Coordinators Conference to Fort Lauderdale.  Held at the famous (or is it infamous) Marlin Beach Hotel, during that meeting the Gay Pride Coordinators Conference became the International Coordinators Conference which, after several interim re-brandings, exists today as InterPride.

1985 brought Eric the first three of his countless community service awards: the South Florida Gay Community Award, a David Award for outstanding volunteer, and the humanitarian award from the Miss Miami Beach Pageant committee.  Never one to rest on his laurels, Eric continued giving to his community in innumerable ways with an emphasis on the needs of the Leather Community and AIDS Service Organizations including: President of NLA Florida, President of FFA Florida Gold Coast, founding member of Leather University, Director of Living in Leather XIV, Chair of the 2000 Black Heart Ball, founding board member and President of the Leather Masked Ball and most recently as President of the revived Black Heart Ball.

To further support his community Eric has been a judge for countless local Leather Contests, Mr. Florida Drummer, Mr. New York Eagle, and Eric was invited to serve as a judge for the 2009 International Mister Leather contest.  Eric has also devoted untold hours as a teacher, facilitator and coach of those persons seeing to more fully enjoy their adult sexuality.  Again, Eric has taught extensively throughout South Florida as well as in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Dallas, Texas, and Portland, Oregon.

Eric’s ongoing service to the community has more recently been recognized with the 2007 Chuck Reslow President’s Award from the Leather Archives and Museum of Chicago, Illinois, and The Leather Journal’s 2008 Pantheon of Leather President’s Award.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held Sunday January 27th at 2:30 PM at Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale.  A covered dish reception will follow at Pride Center at Equality Park 2040 N Dixie Hwy.  Wilton Manors, FL 33305.  A private committal service will be held at a later time.

In lieu of flowers Ira and Eileen request contributions be made to the Black Heart Ball, 1226 NE 4th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. Contributions to the Black Heart Ball which Eric and Ira revived are tax deductible. — at Unitarian Universalist Church Ft Laud.