Ferst Office Supplies is synonymous with Laurence A. “Larry” Searles, who lived and worked on St. Thomas and St. Croix for many years. After a very long illness, Larry died on Dec. 27.
Searles moved from the mainland to St. Thomas in 1969 and worked for Ferst Office Supplies as general manager. He moved to St. Croix, opened Ferst Office Supplies, and commuted back and forth between the islands managing both stores until 1990.
At the Nov. 16, 1986 Trustee’s meeting of the Foundation of the University of the Virgin Islands, the board voted unanimously to adopt the list of permanent and public directors. At the recommendation of Ralph Paiwonsky, in his memorandum of Nov. 14, 1986, with the substitution of attorney Luz James, Larry Searles became public director for St. Croix.
When Hurricane Hugo damaged the St. Croix location, Searles went to work for VIAccess/Wireless World as a special project director. The company continued its operation under the name of Choice Communications.
Searles lived in close proximity to Anneliese Horst Foerster, and he was instrumental in seeing that she and her children were taken care of during the aftermath of the hurricane, Foerster said.
Searles and Foerster became longtime friends and worked together as president and vice-president, respectively, at the St. Croix Retail Merchants Association, advertising the island as a tourist destination.
“Larry was the goodwill ambassador shaking hands with the passengers and welcoming them to St. Croix as they disembarked from the few and far between cruise ships in the Frederiksted port,” Foerster said.
When Foerster left St. Croix, she remained in contact with Searles and continued their friendship long distance. He eventually left the island due to his failing health, she said.
Foerster remembers Searles as actively volunteering with the Boy’s Club.
Many of Searles Facebook friends posted condolences at the news of his passing, Foerster said.