Veteran International Trade Journalist Richard A. Lawrence Dies at 82

A reporter for The Journal of Commerce, Richard A. Lawrence covered international affairs from the Cold War through globalization

Dec 03, 2010, 15:52 ET from The Journal of Commerce

NEWARK, N.J., Dec. 3, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Richard A. Lawrence, who became one of the most respected journalists in Washington covering international trade and finance during his more than 40 years with The Journal of Commerce, died Nov. 29 after a prolonged illness. He was 82.

Mr. Lawrence's career spanned the era from the Cold War through globalization and his coverage of the growing importance of trade and its impact on the American economy won him wide respect from colleagues and competitors for its depth, accuracy and clear explanations of the deeply complicated political and commercial negotiations that mark international trade relations.

"He was a person who wrote a lot of stories in the trade field before a lot of other people did," said Tom Connors, Washington bureau chief of The Journal of Commerce daily newspaper from 1981 to 1994. "A lot of other people covered trade, but they covered it as part of a general economic beat. Dick was a specialist."

To his colleagues, Mr. Lawrence was a figure of deep civility whose quiet manner and impeccable dress disguised an unparalleled passion for getting stories first and, above all, getting them right.  

"One time The New York Times beat us on a story," said Stanford Erickson, a former editor in chief of The Journal of Commerce. "I called Lawrence and said 'I don't like being beat.' He said, 'It's not a story. The New York Times has a relationship with the White House. They're putting up a trial balloon. You'll see on Friday they'll say it's not a story.' I looked. On Friday, The New York Times says it's no story. Dick Lawrence said, 'I don't do that.' I never questioned him again."

He was also a mentor to several generations of journalists who found a wry wit and deep knowledge behind what could seem, to younger reporters, a forbidding air. "He saw a lot of reporters come and go in his time in Washington, and to a lot of us he seemed like someone from another era. Yet, he was absolutely the nicest person I have met in this field and he was always completely helpful to anyone who would come to him," said Mark Solomon, a reporter at The Journal of Commerce in the 1990s.

Although his career spanned several generations of changes in trade and in publishing, Mr. Lawrence remained adamantly opposed to the march of technology. "He started out with your basic standard typewriter. That was it," Connors said. "So far as Dick was concerned, mechanization had reached its pinnacle. And there was no need to go farther."

Richard A. Lawrence was born in Queens, N.Y. on Oct. 30, 1928. In 1949 he received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He served with the U.S. Air Force until 1953.

Mr. Lawrence never pursued a career in engineering and, after discharge, toured and worked in Europe for five years, reporting from London, Paris, Milan and Bonn. In the course of his work he learned German, French, Italian and Portuguese.

His reporting from Europe for The Journal of Commerce led to his position with the Washington Bureau in 1961, where he remained until retiring in 2000. He continued writing columns for The Journal of Commerce, by then a weekly magazine, until 2003.

Mr. Lawrence met Vera Oliveira, a press aide at the Brazilian embassy in Washington in 1963. They married in 1966. They had no children. In addition to Mrs. Lawrence, he is survived by a sister in Massachusetts.

A memorial service for Mr. Lawrence will be held sometime in the spring.

About The Journal of Commerce -- Since 1827, The Journal of Commerce has been the most trusted source of intelligence for international logistics executives, helping them plan global supply chains and better manage day-to-day transportation of goods and commodities in the United States and internationally.

JOC members have access to our weekly print and digital magazine and Web site, as well as a 10% discount on all JOC events and trade shows, UBM Global Trade Directories and select PIERS products. Authoritative editorial content in the form of daily news, weekly analysis and regular features ensure our members have the information and data necessary to understand the issues facing trucking, rail and maritime transportation. Members enjoy access to "By the Numbers," an exclusive weekly compilation of key industry statistics that provides detailed views of current market trends across all modes. Regular market intelligence reports -- utilizing PIERS trade data -- include Top 100 Imports and Exporters, quarterly Top 40 Container lines, Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic Maritime Forecasts and Top Container Ports and Terminals. Market-sector supplements, including Breakbulk, Cool Cargoes, 3PL, JOC Guide to Trucking and others, ensure all modes are comprehensively covered.  

SOURCE The Journal of Commerce