KESWICK, Va. -- E. Wallace  Wally Lawrence III, founder of the Russian Travel Bureau and cofounder of the American Tourism Society, died at his home here on Jan. 25 after a long struggle with Parkinsons disease. He was 76.

A native of Westchester, N.Y., Lawrence attended George Washington University in Washington and served in the U.S. Marines during the Korean War. When he returned to the U.S., he went to work for the State Department.

A believer that travel to the Soviet Union made tourists better Americans, Lawrence founded Russian Adventure Tours in 1970, an inbound operator to the Soviet Union.

In the mid-1970s, Lawrence changed the companys name to the Russian Travel Bureau because of the negative connotations of the word adventure to Russians.

As part of his dedication to promoting travel to the Soviet Union, Lawrence was an active participant in the affairs of the U.S. Trade and Economic Council for many years.

He also served as president of the New York chapter of Skal in the 1970s.

In 1989 Lawrence cofounded the American Soviet Tourism Society with General Tours Chairman Alex Harris, a competitor in business but an ally in the cause of promoting travel to the Soviet Union.

The organization later expanded its mission and was renamed the American Tourism Society.

He was a fierce competitor, said Harris, but he and I became good drinking companions and friends, even though we were very competitive.

He was a very good companion. I valued his spirit and dedication, the personal friendship we developed and the mutual respect we had for each other. Wally will be missed.

Lawrence will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A memorial is planned for spring.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to David Cogswell at[email protected].


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