Hodges University

Local Humanitarian, Lavern Norris Gaynor, writes autobiography

The history of one of Naples most prominent residents has finally been told. The book, “Lal: A Legacy of Gracious Giving,” recounts the life story of Lavern Norris Gaynor, from her family’s early pioneering days in Naples, to her many philanthropic endeavors, to her work today archiving the history of Naples with Naples Backyard.

Gaynor tells of her family’s first visit to Naples in 1946 when the city was no more than palm trees and scrub. The Norris family became instrumental in the early growth of Naples. Their initiative and unrelenting willingness to help was consistent through some of the most critical moments of Naples’ history, including funding the rebuilding of the iconic Naples City Pier following its destruction by Hurricane Donna in 1960.

The philanthropic legacy of the Norris family has been transformative and, throughout the book, it is evident how Gaynor has furthered this great legacy, supporting initiatives involving education, the arts, health & wellness, and causes especially pertinent to the needs of neglected children.

“If ever there was a person who embodies the attributes of greatness, it would be Lavern Norris Gaynor,” said Dr. Terry McMahan, President of Hodges University. “In telling her story, Lal invites us to see the world through the eyes of wisdom, compassion, humanity and quiet benevolence. From her pride in her family as well as her pride in our community, I’m confident that the reader will be inspired by her words and her actions. With her continued efforts in our community today, I’m inspired by the next chapters of her life yet to be written.”

“She is a pioneer in bringing cultural landscape to the forefront and minds of our community and city leaders,” said Dr. Lou Traina, Vice President of University Advancement at Hodges. “With this new found knowledge, we all have the opportunity to transform perspective in how we sustain and preserve our most valuable resource for future generations. She is a true Naples treasure.”

Gaynor dedicates the book to her family, but realizes that many will benefit from her life experiences. “Material possessions don’t make people happy,” writes Gaynor. “Being happy comes from cultivating a positive attitude, from pursuing interests and from helping other people. That is what my family has been about. Our legacy of generosity, of caring, of gracious giving will, indeed, reach out and touch tomorrow, and I invite others to do the same.”

The 353-page book is available at the Hodges University bookstore, 2655 Northbrooke Drive in Naples.

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