The Magdovitz Group is a trade name for a group of entities that are owned or controlled by the Lawrence Magdovitz Family, based in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The family business was started by Lawrence M. Magdovitz (1937-2015) and rose from a small residential real estate company to a commercial real estate empire over the span of 40 years. Now led by Lawrence M. Magdovitz, II, the Magdovitz Group continues to invest in commercial real estate while managing the sizeable real estate portfolio developed by its founder.
Lawrence Maynard Magdovitz, 77, passed away, surrounded by his loving children, Sunday morning, May 24, 2015 after a long illness.
His story began in Clarksdale, MS in 1937 when he was born to Harry and Lenabel (nee May) Magdovitz. One of many Jewish families in the
Clarksdale area, the Magdovitz family operated Mack’s Department Store on Issaquena for several decades. Lawrence and his older brother,
Jerome, worked in the store with their parents. Lawrence played catcher when the boys were playing baseball and was an avid Boy Scout. He
and his brother were both Eagle Scouts. After graduating from Clarksdale High School, he attended Vanderbilt University and received not
only a Bachelor of Arts degree but also his Bachelor of Legal Letters and Juris Doctorate. He was a member of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.
He graduated in 1961 from law school. He then passed the Tennessee and Mississippi bar exams in the same week by taking the Tennessee bar
exam in Nashville and then driving that night to Oxford to sit for the Mississippi bar exam the next morning. He briefly worked in Kentucky
before returning home to Clarksdale and opening up the Law Offices of Lawrence Magdovitz in 1962 at the Stephens Building. His law practice
would span 52 years.
While he was respected, and sometimes feared, for his legal skill, his true talent lay in business, specifically real estate. Up to the day he died, Lawrence was a licensed attorney in Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, a residential contractor and real estate broker in Mississippi. He began buying real estate early in his life, buying his first rental house in Clarksdale when he was just 16 years old using the money saved up from working at Mack’s Department Store. After his return to Clarksdale in 1962, he began buying more and more homes in Clarksdale and renting them out. At one time he owned over 200 homes in Clarksdale. He also built more than 40 homes in the Clarksdale-area and many subdivisions in Clarksdale still bear the names he gave them, including some named after the family dog, Nicholas.
Never satisfied, he turned his attention to commercial real estate in 1980 buying a small commercial building leased to the United States Postal Service in Dundee, Mississippi advertised for sale in the Commercial Appeal in Memphis. This is where the story gets interesting. After this first purchase, he acquired more post offices and even started building several in rural Mississippi including Ashland, MS and Lake Cormorant, MS. By 2002, he had amassed a portfolio of several hundred post offices. Recruiting his son to work for him, he then managed to become the largest single owner of post office buildings in the United States, second only to the United States Postal Service itself.
But still, he could not stop himself from growing his real estate empire. In 2010, he decided to purchase a Dollar General building in Mississippi, and like the post office building in Dundee, it was just the first step of many as he put together another portfolio of commercial real estate. All this from a merchant’s son from Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was never given anything and earned everything he had with his own two hands.
While his life seemed to revolve around business, his sole motivation was to provide for his family. He was a devoted family man. He married Kerin Northrup Coffey in 1972 in a ceremony at Temple Beth Israel in Clarksdale. In 1973, he and his beloved Kerin welcomed a daughter, Beth Ann Magdovitz. Two years later, they welcomed their son, Lawrence M. “Larry” Magdovitz, II. In 1980 Lawrence moved his family up to Germantown, TN while still working in Clarksdale Tuesday through Thursday every week. In 1994, five days shy of her 57th birthday, Kerin Magdovitz died and Lawrence’s heart was broken. He would never re-marry.
His 77 years on this earth were a testament to what a person can do with the right attitude and desire. His word was his bond and he never gave anyone doubt as to where they stood with him whether they wanted to know or not. He did not seem the most likable person sometimes, but anyone who really knew him saw the gentleman inside. He gave generously to various charities including the Boy Scouts and the Institute for Southern Jewish Life and ensured that good work would continue through the Lawrence M. & Kerin C. Magdovitz Foundation. There’s even a library named for him in Arkansas; see if you can find it!