Photo via

One of Central Florida’s most prolific philanthropists, Harriett Lake, has died at the age of 96.

Lake was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1922 and she served in the Marine Corps in the Women’s Reserve until 1945, the end of the war. She married Hymen Lake after relocating to the Miami area, where he was practicing law.

Lake was known as being a staunch supporter of local organizations and, according to an interview she did with Orlando Memory, had a list of 189 charities and hospitals that she freely gave to; including the Orlando Ballet, Orlando Shakespeare Center, and the Mad Cow Theater. During the recent Recession, Lake wrote a number of checks to cover payroll at a number of local arts organizations to keep them in the black.

Lake’s most recent public contribution was to fund a large portion of the upcoming renovation of the Ballet’s new home at the Loch Haven Community Center.

An admitted clothes-junky, Lake, despite being a child of the Great Depression, was known for having a massive assortment of designer clothing, 100 Judith Leiber bags that she displayed at the Orlando Museum of Art during the Festival of Trees, and hats. The wardrobe became so vast, that it was moved to a garage and then a warehouse before Lake’s estate established Harriett’s Closet (Website), a database of her collection and a launchpad for charitable giving, funded in part by annual sales of her carefully acquired pieces.

Funeral information has not been made public at this time but will be handled by Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel of Orlando.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

Leave a comment

Have something to say? Type it below. Holding back can give you pimples.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.