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Lawrence Ramer dies at 84; Center Theater Group president

Lawrence Ramer was devoted to philanthropic efforts and cultural affairs in Los Angeles and elsewhere. He led the Center Theater Group board from 1987 to 1997.

November 04, 2012|Times staff reports
  • Lawrence Ramer chats with Audrey Skirball-Kenis at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Lawrence Ramer chats with Audrey Skirball-Kenis at the Dorothy Chandler… (Los Angeles Times )

Lawrence Ramer, a Los Angeles businessman and philanthropist who served for a decade as president and chairman of the Center Theater Group overseeing the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theatre at the downtown Music Center, has died. He was 84.

Ramer died of cancer Friday at his home in Los Angeles, according to family spokeswoman Sallie Olmsted.

Ramer was president of the board of directors of the Center Theater Group from 1987 to 1997. During his tenure, the acclaimed Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "The Phantom of the Opera" began its four-year run at the Ahmanson in 1989. Ramer also served as chairman of the board at CalArts from 1996 until 2006.

Born July 29, 1928, in Bayonne, N.J., Ramer received a bachelor's degree in economics from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and a master's in business administration from Harvard. He married Ina Lee Brown in 1957 and the couple moved to Los Angeles.

Ramer got his start in the cement business as an assistant to the president of Riverside Cement Co. before rising to become president of National Portland Cement Co. in Bradenton, Fla. Back in Los Angeles, he later co-founded Pacific Coast Cement Co.

Among other business ventures, he served as chairman of Ramer Equities, an investment firm focused on developing manufacturing concerns in Los Angeles.

Devoted to philanthropic efforts and cultural affairs in Los Angeles and elsewhere, Ramer was active in the American Jewish Committee, serving on the board and as treasurer of the organization. In 1998 he and his wife established the Lawrence and Lee Ramer Center for German-Jewish Relations in Berlin. The facility was dedicated to improving understanding between Jews and non-Jews in Germany, other European countries and the United States.

Besides his wife of 55 years, Ramer is survived by daughters Stephanie Ramer and Susan Ramer-Coleman, son Doug, three grandchildren and his brother, Bruce.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Hillside Memorial Park, 6001 W. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles.

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