William E. Lavner, a former vice president of sales and marketing for The Journal of Commerce who became an advocate for the disabled, died Oct. 8 in New York. He was 61.
Lavner joined The JOC in November 1993 from Traffic World magazine, which he joined in 1990 as advertising director. Knight-Ridder, the JOC’s parent company until 1995, acquired Traffic World in 1990, and the weekly magazine operated as a sister publication of the JOC until the publications merged in 2009. Lavner was named publisher of Traffic World in 1997 and a year later added the title of vice president of new media, paving the way for what is today’s JOC Web site.
Born Dec. 7, 1949, in New York City, Lavner was a 1978 graduate of Bernard Baruch College, and held publishing sales and management positions with The New York Times, Fairchild and Cahners before joining the Journal of Commerce Group.
After leaving The Journal of Commerce Group in 2001, fate took a cruel twist when an operation to remove a tumor left Lavner a quadriplegic. His spirit unbowed, Lavner was a tireless advocate for the disabled. In 2011, he joined the board of the Alan T. Brown Foundation, whose aim is to improve the quality of life for those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
“I have attended many ATBF functions over the last 10 years and have met many remarkable people, both disabled and able-bodied,” Lavner wrote when joining the board. “I myself am now a peer mentor at Mount Sinai Hospital and a member of the board of the ATBF, helping newly injured patients to strive and thrive in what is initially an uncertain world.”
He is survived by his wife Sara and two children.