Lawrence Spencer Pratt died Saturday, June 27, of heart failure at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
He was born June 17, 1942, in Pittsfield, while his mother, Ann Spencer Pratt, was visiting her parents in the village of Williamsville, West Stockbridge. Some early friends and relations knew him by his childhood nickname “Butch.” Larry grew up in Greenwich Village, New York City. He attended Friends Seminary and Trinity School before entering Yale, where he studied economics. There, he edited the campus humor magazine, the Yale Record, and was active in the Elizabethan club and manuscript. In 1964, Larry joined the Peace Corps in Malawi, where he worked for the Farmers Marketing Board, assisting farmers with best agricultural practices and obtaining fair prices at rural markets.
Upon his return, he met his wife, Abby Dickler, whom he married in 1967 in New Milford, Connecticut. They went together to Malawi to work for an additional two years. Their first son, Sam Pratt of Taghkanic, New York, was born there. They moved to New York City, where Larry spent two years as a bond analyst at New York Life Insurance Company. Their second son, Dr. Robert W. (Bob) Pratt of Denver, was born there. In 1972, Larry and Abby and their two boys moved to his grandparents’ house in Williamsville. In 2005, they began living in a retirement community in Lexington, with frequent trips home to Williamsville. He also built a modern house in Great Barrington with the architect Daniel Bucsescu.
Larry worked for almost his entire adult life until retirement at the American Institute for Economic Research, a nonprofit think tank in Great Barrington, writing and editing its bimonthly report analyzing finance as well as periodic book-length reports. He also served as president of AIER’s sister organization, American Investment Services. In the 1970s and ’80s, he was elected to multiple terms as chairman of the finance committee of the town of West Stockbridge. He also served in the 1980s and ’90s as treasurer of The Mount, Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox. He was known for his gentle manner, his intellect, his sense of humor, his cooking, and his love of jazz music. His interest in developing nations was revived in recent years as he and Abby traveled regularly to Malawi, Burma and Ecuador for both tourism and charitable work.
In addition to his wife and sons, Larry is survived by Bob’s wife, Dory Pratt, and their children, Lucy Pratt and Owen Pratt, all of Denver.
There will be no funeral service. A memorial gathering may be held in Williamsville and on Squirrel Island, where Larry spent summers since first visiting with his father, Lawrence Southwick Pratt, in the 1940s.