On a football team, Rentz knew that each player has a position and individual responsibilities. “The quarterback is supposed to know them all,” he notes. “Those responsibilities don’t cross over. I can’t make a block for a pulling guard. But in commercial real estate, it became clear that you kind of had to take charge, become the maestro and organize and orchestrate these other professions. Everybody became of a single mind on the team. Their roles were defined and eventually everybody was reading from the same sheet music. That was a huge change.”
Rentz also saw that the beginning, middle and end in sports — where somebody wins, somebody loses — did not necessarily apply elsewhere.
“It took me a long time to get accustomed to the business world where you might’ve talked to 30 people during the day and had three meetings,” he says. “At the end of the day, you think, ‘what the hell did I come up with?’ You didn’t have anything because deals in commercial real estate don’t happen overnight. So there’s a long time between the beginning and the end. And that can be somewhat unrewarding compared to a game.”
Part of community
But Rentz’ roots were secure. He immersed himself in community service ranging from The Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami (where he has served on the board of directors for 30 years) to the University Club and the Brain Injury Association of Florida. He served as a member of the Orange Bowl Committee until the 1980s when he resigned because of travel and time constraints.
Socially, Rentz admits he is more loner than phoner which may explain why he was a bachelor for so long. His wife Lisa, who grew up in Miami Springs, once called the San Diego Chargers to find out more about him because Rentz spent three months eyeing her from a “coffin corner” stool in a Miami Springs bar, too shy to summon the courage to even make contact, let alone ask for a date.
“He watched me for three months and I didn’t even know it,” she says. recalling that their first meeting actually turned out to be an impromptu run-in for ice at a 7-11 on Northwest 36th Street. It took 2 1/2 years of dating before marriage.
“What caught my eye,” Rentz now says with a smile, “was not her external beauty but how she carried herself. She never let anybody buy her a drink. She hardly bought herself a drink.”
Rentz can still recite the numbers to their first date (April 15, 1995). Lisa, in sales at the time, confronted Rentz the next time she saw him, and wondered why he had left the pros after only one year and two games. And why did the Chargers tell her he was a cornerback if he was a quarterback in high school and college?
“I didn’t know anything about football,” Lisa recalled. “I didn’t even know what a cornerback was. I was just trying to find something to talk to him about.”
Rentz left the pros, he says because he simply “tired” of a game he had played since childhood. But even now, Lisa says “you don’t marry someone whose 50 years old, never have a roommate or a pet and expect them to be any different than they are. Larry’s always been very work and goal-oriented.”
Their marriage has been tested by forces often beyond their control. Rentz’ older brother Carl, an attorney, had been in an assisted living facility in Tampa, permanently brain-damaged after being hit by a car while crossing a street in Islamorada 20 years ago. Rentz visited his brother once every three weeks, often staying for as long as 10 days, until his death last Sept. 30.
Lisa lost an 18-year-old son, Ricky, from her first marriage, 10 years ago in an auto accident in Idaho. Her father, Everett H. Dudley Jr., a former judge, died in 2007 after a long illness following heart surgery. Her brother, Rhett, 55, died in 2009 one month after a bicycle accident.
Five years ago, Lisa endured another event that changed her life. In her car at Southwest 17th Avenue and U.S. 1, she was verbally accosted by a homeless man. “He came out into the crosswalk and started yelling at everybody — just yelling profanities and threatening everyone,” she recalled, during an interview with Rentz at their apartment in Coconut Grove. “”When he saw me in the car, I don’t know if it was me, the car or the fact that I was the only one who was accessible. Luckily, the light turned, and I was able to get away before he was able to do any harm. But it was a frightening situation.”
The incident prompted Lisa to pursue what her husband calls “a mission to empower women.” She is now an NRA certified instructor in pistol training. “And she can outshoot 95 per cent of the men,” Rentz says proudly.
Rentz, meanwhile, has been with The Allen Morris Company since 1973 after the founder, Allen Morris Sr., who tried unsuccessfully to recruit him for Georgia Tech, offered him a job. His current title is director of asset management and brokerage.
Lisa describes their relationship as “an unconventional marriage” and not because of the two cats in their apartment or the pet iguanas that she brought back from Idaho after her son’s death. A natural, endearing Frick-and-Frack give-and-take seems to signal respect and caring on both sides.
“I was more shocked when Larry actually turned 50 and decided to get married,” Raymond Butler says. “I went from one side to the other. When he finally decided to settle down and get married, I thought it was wonderful. I love Lisa. She’s just a perfect person for Larry.”
For Rentz’ 50th birthday, even before they were married, Lisa called people all over the country and made a movie of his life. When she phoned Harrell Reid and introduced herself, she said Reid told her, “I would fly a thousand miles for that man.”
“I said, ‘Good, you’re going to be my mystery guest,’” Lisa recalled. She is even more pleased that the skinny 135-pounder she saw in a high-school football photo now weighs 180, adding “I like him better with a little meat on him.”