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Former Yonkers exec Jerry Lawrence dies

October 05, 2020

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Jerry Lawrence, who served as vice president and general manager of Yonkers Raceway and then moved on to become Churchill Downs’ general manager, executive vice president and COO from 1984-1991, died Oct. 1. He was 81.
Like Yonkers Raceway owners the Rooney family, Mr. Lawrence grew up in Pittsburgh and was graduated from Central Catholic High School there and then LaSalle College in Philadelphia. He served in the United States Air Force and as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party before beginning a long career in the horse racing industry.
While at Churchill Downs, Mr. Lawrence was on board as the track began major capital improvements and when the track played host to the first Breeders Cup at Churchill in 1988.
Mr. Lawrence left Churchill Downs to become executive vice president at the New York Racing Association, a post he held into 1994. He subsequently became executive vice president of the bet-processing company Autotote and ultimately president and CEO of Autotote Enterprises before retiring in 2001.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Rita Duffy Lawrence, and his sons Gerald (Stefanie Porges) and Brennen (Whitney Lawrence); and five grandchildren.
 In retirement, he was active in his church and community, and held the rank of Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the James A. Finnegan Foundation (www.finneganfoundation.org), for which he served as a director for 43 years.
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