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American Veteran 01

       


Jerry Clark Lawson

December 1, 1932 ~ February 18, 2019 (age 86)

On Dec 1, 1932, in Yankton, SD, Jerry Clark Lawson was welcomed into the world by his parents, Caleb and Orpha Lawson. After being joined by younger brother George, they moved from Alcester, SD, to Bellingham, where his sister, Rhoda, was born. With them, he had an adventurous youth growing up in the Fairhaven area. He had a knack for getting people to laugh, once making his baby sister Rhoda giggle, causing her to swallow her medicine. He snuck into the Mt. Baker Theater by climbing through a restroom window, heroically saved Bellingham from a fire (that he set,) and other hijinks, before he graduated from Bellingham High School in 1950.  Jerry enlisted in the army in 1952, and served during the Korean War. He was stationed in Whittier, AK, and later Seattle, as part of the Alaska Communication System. After honorably serving his country, he took advantage of the GI Bill, starting college at Western Washington University (then Washington State College), and graduated from the University of Washington in 1960 with a degree in cartography. His next adventure was moving to Billings, MT, where he worked for the Social Security Administration. He met his wife-to-be, Merrily, and after a romantic supply-room proposal, they married in 1962.  After moving to Cheyenne, WY, in 1966, 3 new adventures came into his life: Corey, Melanie and Barry. In the basement in Cheyenne, he danced with a very young Melanie to Creedence Clearwater Revival. He joined the local barbershop chorus, a pastime he enjoyed for the rest of his life. In 1980, the family relocated to Arvada, CO, where they enjoyed countless primitive camping trips in the Rocky Mountains, as well as numerous epic road trips. An unlikely soccer coach, he successfully brought Barry's youth team to an undefeated season. Corey was always pleasantly surprised to see him in the stands at his track meets. He was a consistent and proud presence, always there to encourage his kids in their endeavors.  After their kids left the nest, he and Merrily took trips to Alaska, Scotland, and England, and later, the many locations where his children had set off on their own adventures.  He loved fishing with his brother, George. Carpe Diem, indeed.  Soon enough, seven grandchildren came along. With him, they enjoyed their infinite number of adventures. He took them fishing at Lake Padden, they danced and he played the washboard while choreographing music routines in his workshop, and he attended every single sporting event (of which there were many), rain or shine. Jerry was the most involved and encouraging grandfather around. Jerry was infamous for his 3-legged pig joke (we love him so much, we only eat him a little at a time).  Merrily had heard him tell that joke so many times, she’d (with love) get up and walk away when it he’d start telling it again. When not out tending his beloved “5-Acre Woods” off Kelly Road, or with his wife, he was a daily regular at the mall, recounting his adventures along with his "mall walker" friends. They say planting a tree is an act of faith. One plants a tree knowing they won't be around to see it in its ultimate glory. It’s a gift; to future generations. Up to the very end, Jerry was still planting trees, having put more than 200 evergreens in his woods. And just as with his trees, Jerry’s gift to his family and community was in the way he chose to live: quick with a laugh— and always the first to laugh at himself— he taught by example what it meant to live with compassion, gentleness, and a good sense of humor.  Non-Hodgkins lymphoma eventually caught up to him early February 18, 2019, thirteen days before his 57th wedding anniversary. He was at home with his family, able to see the Douglas firs and cedars that he had planted years prior through his window.  This adventure ended, with a smooth, if unwanted, landing. He got on his connecting flight, and is now on his final adventure. He will be missed, especially by his wife Merrily, his children Corey, Melanie Sandifer (Dave) and Barry, grandchildren Kayla, Klaire, Nate, Ben, Athena, Max, Amelia, great-grandchildren Joel and Mara, brother George, sister Rhoda, and one niece and nephew.  A service will be held Wednesday, February 27th at 1 p.m., at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bellingham. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Paul’s. Better yet, plant a tree.  

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