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Lawrence John Del Papa

July 24, 1928 — March 17, 2015



The funeral will be under the direction of J. Levy & Termini Funeral Home.

The family will receive visitors at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, 2011 Church Street, in Galveston on Friday, March 20, 2015, from 4 – 7pm, followed by a Rosary Service.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1010 35th Street, at 11am, Saturday, March 21, 2015.

  Lawrence John Del Papa passed from this life on March 17, 2015, at the age of 86 in Galveston, Texas where he resided since he was two years old. The youngest of five children, Lawrence was born in Lucca, Italy, July 24, 1928, to Omero and Giorgina Del Papa. He attended St. Patrick’s Grade School, Kirwin High School, and graduated from St. Mary’s University in 1950 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He was the first in his family to attend college.

Lawrence married Jo Ann Sunseri on July 22, 1950, at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The couple celebrated their wedding anniversary in 2014, by having their marriage blessed at the same church in which they were married 64 years earlier.

Lawrence began working in the family business, today’s Del Papa Distributing Company, at age eleven. He worked in every company position over the course of his career, retiring as Chairman of the Board in 2013, seventy-two years later. Under his leadership, the wholesale grocery company that was started by his father in 1910 is now recognized as one of the oldest, most successful and respected beer distributorships in the country.

Lawrence was a life-long member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and he followed the family tradition of giving back to his church and community both financially and in service. Throughout his life, Lawrence was generous in his support of the Catholic Church, Catholic education, and Catholic charities. For years he attended an annual retreat at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Convent, Louisiana and he had a strong devotion to St. Jude.

Lawrence served in many civic organizations over the years and held office in several. He was a Director of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, the Texas Tourist Council, Galveston Greater Beach Association, Galveston Chamber of Commerce, Galveston Oleander Festival, and a Director and Vice President of the Galveston Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Texas Game Wardens Association, Galveston Rifle Club, Galveston County Fair Association, an Honorary Admiral in the Texas Navy Association, and a life member of the Texas State Rifle Association. He was also a supporter of the Galveston 1984 Opera House, The Tall Ship Elissa, Galveston Community College, the University of Texas Medical Branch, the Advocacy Center for Children of Galveston County, the Lighthouse Charity Team and many others. In addition, Lawrence was an advocate and supporter of promoting the tradition of Mardi Gras on Galveston Island. He was an original sponsor of The Knights of Momus Parade and a founding member of the Krewe of Gambrinus, formerly the Krewe of Brew. In 1989, his company financially sponsored its creation and has been its largest benefactor.

In 1974 Lawrence joined the Board of Directors of Bank of the West in Galveston, and in 1975 he became a Board Member of First State Bank of Hitchcock. He was instrumental in the chartering of the bank holding companies: American Independent Bancshares, Inc., and Texas Independent Bancshares, Inc. which in 1995 became Texas First Bank. In 2014, after forty years of service, Lawrence was honored as Director Emeritus.

Over the course of his long and respected career Lawrence served his industry and fellow distributors in several capacities. He served locally as Secretary/Treasurer and President of the Galveston Wholesale Beer Distributors. His most significant contribution, and the one he most enjoyed, was his long involvement with Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas (WBDT). Lawrence was elected President of WBDT in 1963 at age 38; the youngest to ever serve WBDT as President. He was also a member of the WBDT Executive Committee for more than forty years and was elected Chairman for a number of years. Lawrence was a long time member of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) and served a term as a Texas State representative on the NBWA Board of Directors. In 2008, he was honored with the NBWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lawrence enjoyed hunting at his ranch in the Texas Hill Country where he would host friends, business associates and family. Over a span of thirty years he never missed the opening weekend of deer season. Lawrence had a great passion for his work and the companionship of his many friends; however, what Lawrence most loved and enjoyed was his family. The large family gatherings he and his wife, Jo Ann, regularly hosted in their home for more than sixty years was a source of great enjoyment. Lawrence especially cherished the time spent with his daughter Laura, son Larry, granddaughter Caylin and grandson LJ.

Lawrence was a devoted son, loving husband, generous father, proud grandfather, caring brother, and loyal friend. He was a humble and private person who did not seek publicity or recognition. He had a great sense of humor and was very respected by all who knew him.

Lawrence was predeceased by his parents, his brothers Ivaldo Del Papa and wife Lillian, Omero Del Papa, Jr., sisters Jenny Tabaracci and husband David, Velma Micheletti and husband Charlie. He is survived by his devoted wife Jo Ann, daughter Laura Del Papa Murray and husband Diaz of Wichita Falls, son Lawrence (Larry) J. Del Papa, Jr. and wife Joan of Tiki Island, granddaughter Caylin Del Papa, grandson Lawrence (L J) J. Del Papa, III, and sister-in-law Lena Del Papa. He is also survived by his numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be under the direction of J. Levy & Termini Funeral Home. The family will receive visitors at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, 2011 Church Street, in Galveston on Friday, March 20, 2015, from 4 – 7pm, followed by a Rosary Service. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1010 35th Street, at 11am, Saturday, March 21, 2015.

Pallbearers will be Lawrence J. Del Papa, III, Dudley McManus, Renato Dell’Osso Jr., Dominic Dell’Osso, William A. Falkenhagen, Thomas W. Youngblood, III, Mitchell Chuoke, Jr. and John W. Kelso.
Honorary Pallbearers are Paul J. Wilson, John (Chris)Trost, Omero Del Papa, lll, Eugene T. Morse, Jr., John B. Tickle, Charles T. Doyle, Mitchell Chuoke, Eddie Janek, and Matthew T. Doyle.

The family acknowledges with a grateful heart Lawrence’s loving caregiver Robert E. Anderson, assisted by Shirley Collins, Demetra Williams, Josh Williams, Betty Davis, Nancy Mott, and Lawrence’s friend and driver, Frank Gleason.

The family encourages donations to Alzheimer’s research at UTMB, UTMB Development Office, 301 University Blvd, Galveston, TX 77555-0148; Holy Family Parish, 1010 35th Street, Galveston, TX; or the charity of your choice.

Lawrence was often referred to as a gentleman. He was a gentle man.