Lawrence Stier’s legacy could serve as a paradigm for the classic Catskill-life experience. His family’s name serve eponymously as the title for their business (Stier’s Hotel), and Lawrence grew up during the golden age of the Borscht Belt period in Sullivan County.
Upon graduating from Liberty High School in 1945, Stier, the class Valedictorian, headed to college at Syracuse University. After one year of college, he was drafted and was a part of the last group from the New York City area to be called on the very last day of draft. He served in the U.S. Army as a member of the occupation troops in Northern Italy at the very end of World War II and returned to Syracuse to finish his degree. He then attended Harvard University, where he earned his law degree.
The Stier family operated the hotel from 1920-1973, and the young Lawrence (or “Larry” as he was more commonly known) played an active role in the family’s hotel business. The hotel and his family were very important to him, and upon finishing his schooling he returned to Sullivan County to help with the business in 1952.
With a partner, Stier opened his own practice and began to raise a family with his wife Dorothy, whom he met at Syracuse, but who coincidentally (or not) was also from Sullivan County. His penchant for public service was evident from his early years as an attorney, where he lent his talents to help establish the Liberty Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
While working as the Assistant County Attorney, Stier played an important role as the lead attorney during the formation of Sullivan County Community College. This experience no doubt peeked his interest in development. As a member of the Congregation Ahavath Israel Synagogue in Liberty, Mr. Stier actively served as a member of the building committee and with his legal guidance and expertise a new synagogue and community center came to fruition. The synagogue was an important part of his family life, and the Hebrew school bears the name of his beloved brother, J. Harold Stier. He was board member of the organization for more than 20 years.
Before the 1970’s it was not uncommon in rural areas to have a number of small hospitals scattered throughout a region. In Sullivan County, there were two main hospitals in Monticello and Liberty. Stier, a member of the Board of Trustees for Maimonides Hospital in Liberty, with a group of other board members from regional hospitals joined in the creation of one regional hospital: Community General (now Catskill Regional Medical Center). Planning began in the early 1970’s, and Mr. Stier served as president of the board of trustees during the critical three-year period in which the hospital was constructed and opened. He ultimately served for 30 years on the hospital’s Board of Trustees.
In between projects, he and wife Dorothy raised a family and both daughter Nancy and son Marc graduated from Liberty High School. He also served as Liberty Town Attorney, Liberty Councilman and Town of Liberty Justice while continuing his private practice. He was a founding member of the Liberty Rotary Club and was with the organization for 50 years.
Upon his retirement in 1993 Stier traveled with his wife and enjoyed the company of his family, many friends and colleagues. A life-long resident, Stier passed away in February of 2011. His legacy and devotion to Liberty and Sullivan County, however, will always be a part of our history.