Jane Ammeson, Times correspondent
âPeople ask me when I’m going to retire,â said Florence LaRue, âand I say retire? I know I can’t do what I did when I was 70, but I have the energy to keep moving, and that’s what I’m going to keep doing.
LaRue, now 80, is certainly on the move. In the month or so between when her publicist contacted me to do a story on her new book, “Grace in Your Second Act,” and the day LaRue called to chat, she was on tour with the 5th Dimension. , a vocal music group with which LaRue has performed as lead singer since 1966. More than half a century later, six-time Grammy Award-winning LaRue is the only original member remaining.
LaRue never planned or even wanted to be a singer.
âThere were two things I always wanted to do,â said LaRue, who was born in a small town in Pennsylvania. “One was to teach – I had a wonderful grade 5 teacher – and the other was to act.”
Indeed, LaRue, a California State University graduate, was just starting to teach when she fulfilled her duty as Miss Bronze California winner in 1962 by crowning her successor, and Jet magazine photographer Lamonte McLemore had a different plan. His cousin, gospel singer Billy Davis Jr., and Ron Towson formed a group called Versailles.
âHe came over and said he wanted me to be in their group,â LaRue said. She agreed to do it for fun just for a while.