Robert Wilson Lawrence, just one month short of 96 years old, went home to his Savior on August 7, 2023, in Waynesville, North Carolina. His life was long and rich, and he was a blessing to many.
Robert was born on September 11, 1927, to Ivy Wilson and Lydia Denton Lawrence in Smith County, Tennessee. He was one of eight children who grew up helping with the family sawmill business. As a young man, he found his way to work in Dayton, Ohio where he met Ruth Turner and his feelings grew for her while he began his education at David Lipscomb College in Nashville, TN. He married Ruth on Sept 30, 1950, and he started a preaching ministry that encompassed several states and lasted six decades. As part of his ministry, he was deeply involved in youth summer camps, helping found Wisconsin Christian Youth Camp and serving in leadership at Gander Brook Christian Camp. In 1968, Bob moved the family from Worcester, Massachusetts to York, Nebraska where he began a teaching career at York College and taught thousands of students the glories of reading literature as well as the rigors of writing. He added to his own education during these years, completing a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. He adored his students and mentored many of them through the years. His respect for colleagues earned him life-long friendships. He participated fully in the life of York College and its activities and could not imagine leaving York College in any way other than retirement. York College awarded him the title of professor emeritus.
Bob’s interests were wide-ranging: gardening, photography, clock collecting and repair, and antiquing were occupations he shared with others in numerous ways. To know him was to be brought into the worlds of timekeeping, rototilling, birding, baking bread, or beekeeping. He and Ruth loved to travel, whether a short or long road trip (there were hundreds of these) or international travel. He loved his trips to Europe, relishing the art and architecture and landscapes.
Robert devoted himself to preaching whenever possible and served the South Auburn Church of Christ with devotion for 30 years.
He was determined to make his life as long as possible and enjoyed his final years in North Carolina near his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, with constant care and attention from family and long-loved friends.
Robert loved the sunsets in Nebraska, and his body will be at rest next to his wife of 66 years under the wide Nebraska sky.
Robert is preceded in death by his wife Ruth, his parents, his two sisters and five brothers.
He is survived by son Sterling (Catherine) of Candler, NC, daughter Melody Lawrence and her husband Henderson Gilleland of Cullowhee, NC, son Loyal (Carol) of Mars Hill, NC, daughter Joy (Michael) Clark of Selah, WA, Noel (Tracey) of Greeley, CO. Robert is also survived by his thirteen grandchildren: Brandon Lawrence, Chrystal Lawrence-Bondhus, Chesney Gilleland, Caroline Lawrence, Taylor Gilleland, Christopher Lawrence, Jesse and Mason Clark, Jonathan Lawrence, Jennifer Little, Eli, Jack, and Blaise Lawrence. He is also survived by five great-grandchildren: Harlow and Turner Bondhus, Ethan and Juliana Farmer, and Evangeline Silva.
Two services will be held: a funeral service on Sunday August 13, 2023, at 2 pm at the Biltmore Church of Christ in Asheville, NC. And, a Memorial Service will be held at the East Hill Church of Christ in York, NE on Sunday, August 20, 2023, at 2 pm. A private graveside service for the family will be held in York, NE.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the following: Dr. Robert Lawrence Endowed Scholarship at York University, Gander Brook Christian Camp, or Wisconsin Christian Youth Camp
Avery's Memorial Chapel will be handling the services in North Carolina and Metz Mortuary of York Nebraska will be handling the services in Nebraska.