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Published: Thursday, 12/14/2006

Elida solicitor was active in civic causes

LIMA, Ohio - Walter M. Lawson, Jr., 87, a former Lima city law director and a leader in civic causes who was the Elida, Ohio village solicitor since January, 1974, died at home Monday of an apparent heart attack.

He was a lawyer for nearly 60 years and was at his office through Friday.

"He was very active," said his daughter, Janice Schiffer. "He always felt there was something else to do."

Mr. Lawson had a practice for many years with the late Quentin Derryberry. He often had other duties too.

For much of the 1960s, he was an assistant law director of Lima. He was city law director from 1970 to 1973 and became Elida's solicitor the next year. He was a former president of the Allen County Bar Association.

He was a founder of the Lima Area Youth Orchestra, of which he'd been board chairman. He was a founder in the 1960s of Church People for Change and Reconciliation, a group in Lima that worked to foster racial harmony.

"He saw it was his responsibility as part of the community," his daughter said.

He was a former secretary of a city-county urban redevelopment group. He was a member of the development board of James A. Rhodes State College.

A Delaware, Ohio, native, Mr. Lawson received his bachelor's and law degrees from Ohio State University. He was a former Army captain who served in France during World War II and stateside during the Korean War.

He was president of the Allen County Veterans Service Commission and judge advocate of the Ohio Veterans Service Commissioners Association.

He attended regular board meetings of his Disabled American Veterans and AMVETS chapters. He was the last survivor among charter members from 1949 of the Lima Noon Optimist, of which he was a former president. He was a former governor of Optimist International in Ohio.

"Everything was half-full, not half-empty," his daughter said. "He lived with gusto in all he did.

"He never judged the less fortunate. He just cared for them," she said. "If you were looking for person who was a gentleman, you would see my dad."

Surviving are his wife, Maxine, whom he married March 20, 1943; son, Walter M. Lawson III; daughter, Janice Schiffer; sisters, Frances Lawson and Faun Barron; seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Chiles & Sons-Laman Funeral Home, Shawnee Chapel, Lima, after 6 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday in Market Street Presbyterian Church.

The family suggests tributes to the church or the Lima Noon Optimist Foundation.

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