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James Bland Lawrence, former Braniff International Airways Executive, died unexpectedly of heart failure Jan. 4th, 2017. The Greenville resident was 69.
Jim was born in Houston, on July 22, 1947, the son of Harding Luther Lawrence and Jimmie Georgia Bland, and grandson of James Franklin Bland and Georgia Robison, owners of Bland Printing Company in Greenville.
Jim was raised in Dallas and Columbine, Colo. In 1965, he graduated with high honors from the Harvard-Westlake preparatory school in Los Angeles, Calif., where he was a ROTC 1st Lieutenant, captain of the varsity football team and president of the International Travel Club.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Southern California in 1969. A member of the USC varsity rugby team, Jim is remembered for a scrimmage with the USC Trojans football team where he was famously dragged for 40 yards by the undeterred O.J. Simpson, who ultimately made the touchdown. Following graduation, he received his Master of Arts degree in Communications and Cinema at USC's Graduate Department of Cinema.
He formed and incorporated a film company and produced and directed "Honky Tonk Heroes," a documentary film on Billy Joe Shaver, a Grammy nominated singer and songwriter who wrote for singers such as Johnny Cash.
An avid world traveler, Jim worked as a longshoreman in Hawaii and as a news editor in Sydney, Australia, before beginning his career in television broadcasting. His first job was as an account executive for NBC affiliates in Austin and Dallas, where he earned a reputation as a fierce competitor but always a gentleman.
At the behest of his father, Jim joined Braniff International Airways as vice president of public affairs in 1977. A registered lobbyist, he worked with Congress to establish additional routes during the regulation era of the airline industry. Jim was instrumental in Braniff's record-holding achievement of opening 16 domestic markets within a single day. Shortly thereafter, Jim was appointed vice president of the Asia Pacific division. In this capacity, he was charged with building the Far East route, something which was accomplished in a record-breaking 89 days. Braniff's expansion of non-stop international routes was considered ahead of its time by industry analysts.
Following his time at Braniff, Jim was asked to join the advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene in New York City in 1981 and quickly rose to become senior vice president and managing director for the firm's Detroit office, overseeing the Ford Motor Company campaign. He is credited with restoring Ford image by effectively repositioning programs including the notable "Quality is Job I" and "There's a Ford in America's Future." During this time, consumer perception of Ford rose from 15 points behind General Motors to 12 points ahead. In 1997, Jim returned to his passion for the airline business as senior vice president of USA Marketing for Air France. After a full career, Jim retired to his homes in Dallas and Greenville in 2002.
During his time at Wells, Rich, Greene, Jim met his future wife Pamela Douglas Moffat. They married in 1987 at La Fiorentina, the fabled Lawrence estate at St. Jean-Cap Ferrat, France. The couple had one son, Slater Harding Bland Lawrence. The marriage ended in divorce in 2001.
Jim was a member of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C., the National Wildlife Federation, the Adcraft Club of Detroit, the Fairlane Country Club in Dearborn, Mich., the Waccabuc Country Club in Waccabuc, N.Y., and Club Lake in Greenville.
Jim is survived by his son, Slater Harding Bland Lawrence, of New York and Greenville; his brother, State Rights Lawrence, of Mystic, Conn.; sisters, Deborah Lawrence, of New York, Pamela Lawrence Lombard, of Geneva, Switzerland, and Katy Lawrence Bryan, of New Jersey; his former wife, Pamela Moffat, of New York.; step-mother, Mary Wells Lawrence; and six nieces and nephews.
While Jim had a great passion for the outdoors, his greatest interest was his family and friends. He is further survived by his many friends' fond memories who will continue to cherish his sense of humor, compassion and ability to provide hope and inspiration.
A memorial service will be held as a "Celebration of His Life" this spring in New York.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests for those who desire to make contributions in Jim's memory to do so to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Lyme Alliance.
Published on February 10, 2017
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