Harriett Lake Local Philanthropist and Fashion Icon
The Orlando Health Foundation said goodbye to friend and supporter Harriett Lake on Tuesday, July 10. A Longwood resident, Harriett was 96 when she passed. Known for her passionate support of the arts, Harriett saw her name grace everything from a theater-department van at Rollins College in Winter Park to an elegant ladies’ lounge at downtown Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
For years, cancer patients have picked up stylish hats and scarves — for free — at Harriett’s boutique at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center.
Harriett was born Harriett Tuck on April 7, 1922. One of seven children, she grew up in Lebanon, Pa. She earned a degree at Westchester State Teachers College, but World War II changed her career plans. Disturbed by growing anti-Semitism, Harriett became a Marine in 1943 and served as a payroll sergeant, stationed in Southern California.
Harriett’s Charitable Trust
The experience she gained working with money would serve her well later in life when she established Harriett’s Charitable Trust. After being named the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Floridian of the Year, she told the newspaper she donated about $1.5 million every year to causes close to her heart, including the arts and healthcare.
Harriett and her husband, Hymen, who passed in 2010, met on the steps of a synagogue in Miami Beach in 1948. They married in 1950 and moved into a single-room efficiency.
Their financial picture soon improved, though, as Hymen bought and sold land throughout Florida. His first big sale was a tract off Turkey Lake Road in south Orlando that Harriett deemed a “hopeless swamp.” Martin Marietta paid $1 million for the property, now part of the Lockheed Martin complex.
Harriett and Hymen moved to Orlando with their children, Michael and Shelley in 1962. Harriett decorated model homes in her husband’s developments and answered the phone at his Travelodge on the Trail. She earned a master’s degree in vocational guidance and counseling at Rollins College.
Her Name Lives On
Harriett accumulated a collection of hats, bags, glasses and gowns so fabulous that selections from her wardrobe were exhibited at Orlando’s Mennello Museum of American Art. In her later years, she would sell off clothes to raise money for charity. In 2015, a “Harriett’s Closet” sale raised close to $50,000 for the Level One Trauma Center at Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center.
To Orlando Health, Harriett and her husband Hymen gave more than $1.3 million to various hospitals and organizations including Orlando Health ORMC, Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies and Women Playing for T.I.M.E. benefitting Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center.
We will miss you “Gorgeous!”