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Obituary: Laurence DeFrance, 1944-2023

December 21, 2023
By Staff Report

Laurence DeFrance, age 79, passed away peacefully on December 6, 2023. He was born October 3, 1944 in New York, the son of Margaret and Professor Joseph J. DeFrance. Laurence (“Larry”) grew up alongside his extended family and attended Garden City High School, where he made lifelong friends.

As a Little League Yankee All-Star, baseball was one of his favorite pastimes. He attended The University of Notre Dame, which remained a source of pride throughout his life, and the Victory March sang through the house every Saturday. It was at Notre Dame where he first discovered his love of lacrosse and played on the University’s first lacrosse team. 

His passion for the sport remained constant, and after helping establish lacrosse in Nashville, Tenn., he became “Coach” to many on the Father Ryan High School lacrosse team. He was humbled to be named Tennessee Scholastic Lacrosse Association’s “Man of the Year” in 2015. 

He met his wife, Christine DeFrance, a nurse from Melbourne, Australia while earning his MBA at Columbia University. Hired by Jack Welch out of business school, he worked for GE Plastics, which led to many New England moves. 

His entrepreneurial nature and astute business savvy eventually led Larry to pursue his own business opportunities in Nashville in 1978. He achieved his greatest career success as CEO of Cumberland Swan. 

He was well respected in the business community and became a mentor to many young adults. 

Larry was engaged in many facets of the Nashville community, including Ensworth and Harpeth Hall, where his three daughters attended school; Hillwood Country Club, St. Henry’s, where he taught CCD and sat on the school board; and St. Thomas Hospital, where he offered communion to patients. He was steadfast in his Catholic faith and approached life with compassion and intention. Together with his wife, he shared a lifelong love of travel, adventure and family. In 2013, they found a “home away from home” in Boca Grande, Florida. There he enjoyed golf, tennis, the beach, new friends, and above all, spending time with his five grandchildren whom he adored. He cherished his days at Coral Creek Country Club in Florida. 

He will be remembered most for his warm reception, calm presence, kindness and his eternal smile. He is survived by: wife, Christine DeFrance; daughters, Samantha DeFrance (Lorenzo) Marini; Victoria DeFrance (Michael) Hodges, Tiffany DeFrance (Jeffrey) Guthmiller; grandchildren, Charles Campbell Brown IV, Matilda Grace Marini, Ella Mae Brown, George Oliver Marini, Allegra Kate Marini; sister, Dr. Cynthia Dryer (Dr. Tom) Dryer; niece Natalie Dryer and nephew Alexander Dryer. 

A celebration of life for Larry will be held at Christ the King Church on Belmont Blvd. on Friday December 29th, with visitation at 9:00 and service at 10:30 am. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to: Friends of Radnor Lake:; Lupus Research Alliance:; or the Larry DeFrance Fund for Father Ryan Lacrosse (Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee): 

An online guestbook is available at Call 615-377-0775.