Worthy Brother Lawrence Barris
Enjoying a Wonderful Life
Founding member and Worthy Brother Lawrence Barris truly believes that he is living a Wonderful Life even though, unlike the movie of the same name, his story did not begin in Bedford Falls nor was his father in the savings and loan business.
Growing up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Lawrence would occasionally help his entrepreneur dad, Leonard Barris, in the family's food and fancy goods business. Lawrence attended Theodor Herzl Jewish Day School in Port Elizabeth where he excelled in athletics that included tennis, cricket, squash, table tennis, soccer, hockey, and rugby. In his "spare" time, he loved to surf. Lawrence chuckled as he remarked, "I excelled in everything but my education!"
Even Lawrence's religious studies for his Bar Mitzvah took a back seat to his athletic commitments. In fact, a week before his Bar Mitzvah, his Cantor called his parents and stated, “This boy is NOT going to be ready for his Bar Mitzvah in a week!” Lawrence's parents abruptly removed him from school for two solid days and nights so that he could give his complete attention to his Cantor who helped him “cram” for his big day. His commitment paid off and he was able to successfully become a Bar Mitzvah!
After high school, Lawrence entered the South African Police Force which was part of the military training and requirements of all young men at that time in South Africa. Three months after his stint in the South African Police Force, Lawrence met the love of his life and his future bride, Sharlene, through a mutual friend. Sharlene was from Capetown and was visiting her younger brother, Phillip, who attended Lawrence’s alma mater. It was truly love at first sight! Unfortunately, Lawrence and Sharlene's relationship was derailed the day after they met when Lawrence suffered an eye injury in a game of squash and was hospitalized for the next eight days.
Lawrence and Sharlene dated for the next five years and eventually married in a civil ceremony in a courthouse because Lawrence had applied for his Green Card. Later that year, they had a Jewish ceremony and were married in a Shul in April of 1984. Eventually, they both obtained their Green Cards and moved to Houston, Texas. Presently, they are the proud parents of two children, Jodi (now 33) and Johnathan (now 30) and also are blessed with two wonderful grandchildren. Since arriving in Houston, Lawrence has stayed busy starting and growing a number of businesses which have included a high-end chocolate and coffee company in Town & Country Mall and, later, the Galleria Mall, an A/C and plumbing business, and a janitorial chemical blending business. All were sold for a profit. After those ventures, Lawrence worked for 12 years with Worthy Brothers John and Clive Hess in their computer and metal recycling business. Lawrence now owns and operates commercial/industrial business parks.
Lawrence attributes much of his success as a businessman and as a father to lessons learned from his parents. They taught him the values of discipline, punctuality, respect, fair mindedness, balance, and honesty. He developed his passion for serving others through his father Leonard's and his grandfather Connie Barris's involvement in the Hebrew Order of David in South Africa. In fact, Lawrence became one of the youngest members inducted into the Hebrew Order of David Lodge Hillel at the age of 21!
When Lawrence and Sharlene emigrated to the U.S., Lawrence was disappointed to learn that Houston did not have a lodge. There had been an earlier attempt, but, it had not been successful. In 2015, while visiting daughter Jodi and her husband, Josh Sanchez, Lawrence was introduced to several ranking HOD Lodge Brethren from Atlanta who were consecrating the Lodge in Dallas. They told him that they were more than happy to help Lawrence start a lodge in Houston. So, with their help, the Houston Galil Lodge was consecrated on November 8, 2015 with about 30 founding Brethren.With a loving, close-knit family, a successful business, and a growing HOD Lodge Galil, I would have to agree with Lawrence that he truly is enjoying a wonderful life! .