Gulfport Dance Teacher was florist for Atlanta Royalty
Larry Lucas, Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center’s official ballroom dancing, cooking and flower arranging teacher, has plenty of stories to tell about his former life as a famous Atlanta florist and cruise ship dancer. itinerant.
Born in a small town in Illinois, Lucas discovered his natural talent for elaborate floral decorations in the 1960s while working for florists in Tampa and Palmetto. The owner of Stern’s, an Atlanta florist, spotted his talent and picked him up in the area. Lucas left Florida with the flowers in tow, intending to go solo.
“I got a loan of $ 75,000 from the bank and bought my own store, ‘Larry Lucas Limited’,” Lucas said. “Basically, I put Stern out of business.”
It was the start of an era: Lucas wrote his cookbook, “Fun with Food and Flowers Cookbook” and became the official florist for former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. The relationship blossomed after Lucas met Rosalynn at a blindness benefit in Atlanta in the 1970s.
“Halfway through the program, I brought him two dozen roses,” Lucas recalls. “They are such a nice, generous couple. I always get a Christmas and birthday card from them every year.
Then Carter was governor of Georgia, and when he left for Washington DC after eight years of working with Lucas, the governor and his wife invited Lucas to move north.
” I did not do it. I wanted to stay home, ”Lucas said. “Les Busbees” [Former Georgian Governor George Busbee] sort of adopted me.
He did not stay at home for long. Until 2017, Lucas spent 31 days a year for 16 years on various cruise ships, teaching ballroom dancing.
“I saw an ad posting a need for lobsters, breeders and ballroom dancers,” Lucas said. “I went with the ballroom dancing. “
With little training outside of dancing with female family members as a preteen in Illinois, Lucas enlisted in the instructor program and dived into it, traveling to 60 countries over the course of its 16 years old.
“In 31 days, you become friends with the passengers,” Lucas said. “The cruise ships were fine, but I really did it for the people and for the adventure.”
The florist’s cruise days are over, but he’s not done dancing yet. Lucas teaches ballroom dancing once a week and chair volleyball twice a week for the Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center. He has hosted many of the centre’s online cooking shows and still hosts the occasional floral seminar in St. Petersburg.
And don’t forget the 32 desserts a week that he prepares for his students.
“Gulfport feels right at home,” said Lucas. “I am extremely blessed to have my life here.”
Meet the legend (and learn to dance or cook) at mygulfport.us/recreation/senior-center.
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