Harriett Lake, Orlando’s biggest supporter of the arts, died Tuesday at 96 years old leaving behind her legacy with the Central Florida arts community and to those she helped through her generous support of charities.
Lake was widely known for using her love of fashion to support her favorite causes including cancer research, theater education and the arts. She donated some of her large collection of clothes, hats and bags to raise money for the trauma center at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Through Harriett’s Charitable Trust, she established Harriett’s Closet, selling her Judith Leiber handbags and other accessories to support more than 150 charities.
At Harriett’s Cancer Boutique at the Orlando UF Health Cancer Center breast cancer patients are treated to hard-to-find items, including scarves, hats and wigs. All at no cost.
Orlando Ballet artistic director Robert Hill confirmed to News 6 that Lake died earlier Tuesday. The Orlando Ballet was one of the many arts organizations Lake supported throughout her life. Most recently, donating $5 million for a the new headquarters for the Orlando Ballet in Lock Haven Park.
Last year, the Orlando Ballet performed a tribute to Lake featuring her favorite Broadway songs.
“Her support of the ballet was beyond amazing,” Hill said, adding that the Orlando Ballet will plan something to honor her memory.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Lake’s contribution to Central Florida left it a better place.
“So sad to hear about the passing of one of Orlando’s most generous philanthropists, Harriett Lake,” Dyer said. “With great style and flair, Harriett supported so many worthy causes. She left a lasting legacy and helped make our community a more vibrant place to live.”
“Thank you, Harriett Lake for your passionate support of the arts in Central Florida,” the Orlando Philharmonic tweeted. “Your legacy and impact as a long-time OPO patron will never be forgotten.”
Lake is survived by her two children Michael and Shelley.
Lake’s memorial will be a graveside service Friday at 11 a.m. at Ohevshalom.