COLUMBIA — Walter Lee Lawrence was a compassionate man dedicated to his family.
Mr. Lawrence died on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. He was 73.
Mr. Lawrence was born on May 16, 1938, in Rocheport, to Ira Ervin and Stella Marie Wright Lawrence.
After serving his country in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959, Mr. Lawrence worked as a brick mason for 45 years. His wife recalled how he would often lay brick for people for a cost that was little to nothing.
"That's just what he did," his wife, Gail Lawrence, said.
Mr. Lawrence went out of his way to help others. He used to take old bicycle parts and construct bikes for children who didn't have the means to purchase their own. His wife remembered when one little boy came to him with just a bicycle pedal and asked if Mr. Lawrence would make him a bike.
"He didn't have the parts at the moment, but it bothered him quite a bit," his wife said. "He ended up getting enough parts to make him a bike. The bicycles weren't beautiful, but they worked."
Mr. Lawrence spent a significant part of his life searching for his son whom he had been separated from. According to his wife, he frequently traveled to Iowa where he heard his child and his mother last were. As it turns out, Lee Walter Edson was looking for his father, too.
"When Lee Jr. finally got a hold of his father, he asked if his military number meant anything to him," his wife said. "It was an emotion that was hard to describe."
After being reunited with his son after 20 years, Mr. Lawrence had said that his life had come full circle.
"After seeing his son for the first time, he said it was like looking at himself when he was younger," his wife said.
Mr. Lawrence and his son spent time becoming reacquainted with one another.
"They just talked all the time," his wife said. "They sent eons of picture of Lee Jr.'s family, the grandkids and photos of Lee when he was a child."
Mr. Lawrence loved spending time with his family.
"Other than the birth of his children, being able to see, get to know and spend time with Lee Jr., was the highlight of my husband's life," his wife said.
When raising their three sons, Mr. Lawrence and his wife would take their family on camping and fishing trips in Colorado. He also enjoyed many moments with his grandchildren.
"He used to ride the grandkids around the yard with a wagon attached to his mower," his wife said. "The kids loved it."
Mr. Lawrence is survived by his wife, Gail Lawrence; his three sons, Wil Lawrence, Larry Lawrence, and his wife, Jamie, and Eddie Lawrence; one brother, Arthur Lawrence; two sisters, Vivian Johnson and Connie Welch; and thirteen grandchildren.
His parents, Ira Ervin and Stella Marie Wright Lawrence; son, Lee Walter Edson; and two brothers, William and Eugene Lawrence, died earlier.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10 at Harrisburg Christian Church, 201 E. Sexton St., Harrisburg, Mo. Visitation will be from noon until service time.
Online condolences for the family may be left at nilsonfuneralhome.com.