Bob and Jackie Lane “brave investors in Tryon”

Published 9:28 pm Friday, March 20, 2015

Area mourns passing of investor Bob Lane

By Leah Justice

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The Tryon community is mourning the loss of Bob Lane, known for helping to revitalize downtown Tryon, who passed away on March 18.

“Bob and his wife Jackie were brave investors in Tryon at a time when others were unwilling to take those risks,” said Tryon Mayor Jim Wright. “He was a visionary with the courage to act on his vision. He and Jackie redeveloped the St. Luke’s Plaza, restored Sunnydale and subsequently donated it to the Tryon Little Theatre, and their renovation of the “Gas for Less” building began the return of the vitalization of Tryon commercial real estate. He struck me as a quiet, deep thinker who had a big smile for everyone he met. We will miss his leadership.”

The Lanes came from Charleston, S.C. and became part-time Tryon residents for the past 20 years.

Bob Lane had a love of restoring old things, particularly cars and buildings. He restored three Model A Fords and 10-15 British sports cars from the 1940s and 50s and kept all but two of them.

He began renovating buildings in the Charleston area beginning with a home he transformed into a real estate office in the 1970s. Fifteen years ago he renovated a building in Charleston that now houses three restaurants, a beauty salon and various retail and office spaces on King Street in Charleston.

And after he and Jackie fell in love with Tryon, they began a legacy of renovating old buildings here.

Bob Lane’s first project in Tryon was completed after he kept riding by the old Sunnydale building and seeing it dilapidate further and further. He told his wife he had to save the building. After the renovation, the Lanes decided to give the building back to the community by donating it to the Tryon Little Theatre.

“I remember while they were tearing out the inside of the building, people would come up and say, “Thanks for saving Sunnydale,’” Bob Lane told the Bulletin following the renovation. “It almost chokes me up just thinking about it now. I had never heard of Sunnydale-the building had been Mexican restaurants and such ever since we’d been here.”

Then a few years ago, following a downtown revitalization meeting, the Lanes decided to purchase and renovate what is now the St. Luke’s Plaza, to be the centerpiece of town.

Lane’s vision of the St. Luke’s Plaza was that it would tie together with the Depot Plaza.

“I hope like Sunnydale it will be a gathering place that will draw people to the center of Tryon and then they will go up and down the street shopping and eating in Tryon,” Lane said. “I want them to enjoy being with other people.”

Tryon’s economic development director Crys Armbrust, ironically this week was in Morganton at the NC Main Street Conference where Tryon is receiving the economic development award for the St. Luke’s Plaza.

tryon honors bob lane

“Bob Lane was an extraordinary friend both of people and places. His quiet demeanor, gentle humor and discerning vision touched the lives of many,” said Armbrust. “His interest in ‘projects’ was a lifelong interest, and Tryon benefited much from that interest.”
Armbrust said the Sunnydale’s, Gas for Less and St. Luke’s Plaza projects renewed revitalization and restoration efforts in downtown Tryon at a crucial time.  Those project efforts enhanced aesthetics in the downtown corridor, increased consumer and investor confidence in our town and garnered considerable recognition for Tryon from both the NC Main Street program and the NC Department of Commerce.

“His extraordinary life lives on in the legacy he leaves behind for us and others to enjoy and share,” said Armbrust.


Tryon Town Manager Joey Davis Lane’s love for Tryon can be seen as people travel through the town.

“While we are all saddened by his passing, the love that Bob Lane had for Tryon is very evident when you travel down Trade Street,” said Tryon Town Manager Joey Davis. “We can take comfort in knowing that his love is displayed in projects that benefit the town such as the St. Luke’s Plaza, for example. His willingness to work with the town on such projects certainly won’t be forgotten and we hope can be used as an example of what can happen when working together for the common good.”

Bob Lane’s services are today in James Island, S.C. (see obituary for more information on Lane, page 12).