“Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” Tyler attorney, Wm. D. “Bill” Lawrence, Jr., went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on January 25, 2010 in his home surrounded by family.
A celebration of Bill’s life is scheduled for Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at First Christian Church, 4202 S. Broadway, Tyler, Texas. The family will receive friends at Stewart Family Funeral Home, 7525 Old Jacksonville Highway, Tyler, Texas on Friday, January 29, from 5 to 7. A private burial will be held prior to the service.
Born in Paris, Texas, on November 21, 1922 to the late Elizabeth O. Lawrence and W. Dewey Lawrence, Bill moved with his family to Tyler in 1931 and enjoyed a wonderful childhood with many close friends. He attended Gary Elementary School, Hogg Junior High School and Tyler High School. It was with particular pride, enthusiasm and a mischievous sparkle in his eye, that even in the last years of his life he could sing all verses of the Hogg Junior High School Fight Song.
He interrupted his college career to join the armed services during the Second World War. Assigned to bases in the “heel” of Italy; he flew B-24 Liberators on a total of 24 missions in the European Theater of Operations. Throughout Bill’s life, he delighted in his fellowship with his flight crew buddies.
Following the war, Bill completed his undergraduate education at the University of Texas at Austin and graduated from Southern Methodist University Law School. He met Dorothy McGuire in 1946 and they were married September 12, 1948.
With a serving mission, Bill practiced law with his father and brother in the firm of Lawrence & Lawrence – affectionately referred to as the “One Quart Law Firm; one pint and two half pints.” He had a great fondness for his “little brother,” the late F. Lee Lawrence, with whom Bill was proud to practice law for over 40 years. For decades, Bill represented many businesses, large and small, as well as individuals from all walks of life -- all with the same passion, expertise and care. He was a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and a member of the American Academy of Hospital Attorneys.
His commitment to service went beyond his practice of law – without hesitation he worked in the community that he loved. He was a member of the Board of Adjustments of the City of Tyler, served as President of the Tyler Lions Club, District Chairman of the American Red Cross, Chairman of the Board of the Smith County Chapter of the Salvation Army, President of the Smith County Chapter on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, President of the Texas Rose Festival Association, and President of the Smith County Bar Association. During Bill Clements’ tenure as Governor, he appointed Bill to serve on the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission.
Bill served in legal and leadership capacities with the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System for more than 30 years. In 1977, he served as Chairman of the Board of East Texas Hospital Foundation (now ETMC) and was currently in the role of Director Emeritus on the ETMC Foundation Board.
In 2005, Bill was presented with the Justinian Award by the Smith County Bar Association in recognition of his professional excellence, exemplifying integrity, leadership, service to the community, and service to the legal profession.
An Eagle Scout as a boy, Bill also took on various leadership roles in the scouting movement in East Texas. After many years of service, the East Texas Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America honored Bill with the highest award which a scout council is allowed to give for adult leadership: the Silver Beaver. After this award, he continued to serve another 35 years, much of that time as an executive board member and voluntary legal counsel.
He loved the Lord and worshiped Jesus Christ. In that commitment he served variously in the Christian Church and Fifth St. Presbyterian Church as a deacon and elder. Bill also served on the Board of Directors for Pine Cove Camp. He was for many years an officer and member of the Board of Directors of Don Anderson Ministries of Tyler, Texas, and upon his retirement served as a regular volunteer of that organization.
Bill is survived by his devoted wife of over 60 years, Dorothy McGuire Lawrence. They had three children – William David, Charles Frederick (who died at infancy) and Ann Lawrence Tague. They have four wonderful grandchildren, W. Dewey Lawrence, III, Amanda Jane Lawrence, James William Woods and Spencer Lawrence Woods and one treasured great-granddaughter, Emma Riley Woods. Also much loved and respected is the wife of David, Kathleen S. Lawrence and the husband of Ann, Jeff Tague. Bill is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews. Jerlean Hudson is valued beyond words for her many years of faithful care of the Lawrence family.
Wm. D. Lawrence, Jr. is remembered as a distinguished lawyer and humble gentleman; a man of faultless character and the recipient of many richly deserved honors; a mentor of men, a fine administrator; a man of courage and determination; and above all, a warm friend.
Honorary Pallbearers include John W. Hardin, R. E. “Peppy” Blount, Elmer G. Ellis and Bill’s dear friends who predeceased him to heaven.
Bill had the upmost respect and appreciation for East Texas Medical Center, its staff, and his personal physicians. Not only did he admire his physicians professionally, but Bill enjoyed a special friendship with each of them.
The family expresses a special thank you to all of Bill’s caregivers with a personal thank you to Dennis Waller for his many hours of devotion and exceptional care.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Bible Teaching Resources, P.O. Box 6611, Tyler, Texas 75711 or the charity of your choice.