Longtime motorcoach operator Lauren LeBron passes

TAMPA, Fla. — Longtime motorcoach operator and 2008 UMA Vision Award winner Lauren Denise LeBron passed away last month after a lengthy battle with neuroendocrine cancer.

She was married to Godfrey LeBron, a former UMA board chair, and was partners with him in Paradise Travel, a company known for its willingness to help operators in the New York City area.

They met while Lauren was a customer of White Bus Company, where Godfrey was employed, and they started Paradise Travel in 1987.

Lauren LeBron was extremely active in the industry for nearly 30 years. It’s worth noting, and a tribute to her strength and character, that many of her accomplishments occurred during a 15-year struggle with the rare cancer that required several major surgeries and kidney dialysis.

Godfrey LeBron remembers visiting her right after surgery and catching her working on a laptop. Paradise’s recognition as a UMA Vision Award Winner came at the midpoint of her battle.

An early proponent of providing quality service to the disabled community, Paradise Travel’s willingness to order ADA-equipped buses was instrumental in accelerating MCI’s program to install wheelchair lifts in its newest-model luxury touring coach, a risky decision for both parties.

Lauren LeBron was born on Feb. 5, 1952, in Bronx, N.Y., and was the proud mother of three children from a previous marriage: Pamela Angora, Donna Labasi and Douglas Hansen. She was devoted to her six grandchildren, Dominick, Dylan, Brendan, Sebastian, Charlie and Olivia.

Ironically, or perhaps symbolically, she was on her way to visit the grandchildren when she sustained an injury that, combined with her illness, ended her life.

Her husband, her three children and her sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Robert Nemeth, were by her side when she passed.

“She had a kind, warm and accepting heart,” said Bob Crescenzo, a longtime friend and business associate. “Nonetheless, she was fierce in her roles as mother, wife, friend and business woman. She was more than self-sufficient, she was someone who got things done, or should I say, everything done.

“When Superstorm Sandy hit Long Island, she and Godfrey made a dangerous trip to check on my house,” Crescenzo said. “The power was out, so they opened the failed freezer and ‘rescued’ the many quarts of pesto I’d made the week before. They ate thawing pesto for over a week until the power came back on. That story reflects that way Lauren approached life — help people, take no prisoners, get it done and make sure you have pesto.”

Lauren LeBron loved to travel and attended nearly every UMA Expo from 1987 until last year. Ken Presley, UMA’s vice president of industry relations and COO, pointed out that “Lauren’s dream vacation was a Hawaii cruise, and a couple of months ago, she made it.”

Presley said the LeBrons were a team that had a significant impact on the motorcoach industry, and while Godfrey was often highly visible, it was Lauren working behind the scenes that very often made it all possible. It wasn’t the vehicles she loved, but bus people and the customers who rode them.

In lieu of flowers, the LeBrons have asked that donations be made to help increase awareness of neuroendocrine cancer.

For information and to make donations, go to the Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network website at www.netcancerawareness.org or call 866-850-9555

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