William Lawrence 1929-2021 — My father died yesterday. It was at his home of 60 years in Springfield, Pa. He was 92. He went gently, sitting in his recliner listening to waltzes.
William W. Lawrence was born May 3, 1929 in Roebling, N.J. and raised by a single mom with two sisters. In his early teens, they moved to Philadelphia where he attended Jules E. Mastbaum High School.
He was a good athlete. He played Pop Warner football and high school basketball. He was the school’s center, actually. Dad was 5-6. They never won a game, he says.
Dad’s other high school boast was that he was the only one among his friends who never stole a car.
He planned to be a carpenter but just before his 18th birthday he joined the Army. His goal was to become a paratrooper. A skill test, though, changed things. While waiting in a line he heard a whisper.
“Hey, kid. You wanna be a spy?”
And so rather than jumping from planes he ended up in the Army Security Agency. He learned Morse Code and spent the next several years in Western Europe monitoring the Soviet bloc. He talked about the time his unit was sent to West Berlin to chase a real spy. He talked about the time he intercepted the names of the entire Yugoslavian Army, when it broadcast its payroll over the air due to a postal strike. He talked about his dog Dit.
He returned to civilian life in 1954. He went to Temple University on the GI Bill and that’s when he chose journalism as his new career. He took a job with the Philadelphia Daily News where his talents were nurtured by editors like Bill Blitman and J. Ray Hunt.
He met my mom, Margaret Lozinak, a nurse at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Hospital, and they were married in 1959. I came along a year later followed by Robert (1961) and Chris (1962).
In the early 1960s, The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin — then the largest evening paper in the country — hired him away. There he covered crime and politics and numerous national stories. He edited the Mr. Fixit consumer affairs column, and was a leader in the Delaware Valley Kidney Fund which would morph into a movement to make dialysis affordable for all who needed it nationwide.
When the Bulletin closed in 1982, he was hired by Rich and Reese Crowe to edit the brand new County Press, a weekly covering Marple and Newtown townships in Delaware County, Pa. He created the Omnibit and Legendary Recipe features for the Press.
Dad would soon get part-ownership and start new Presses in Haverford, the Media area, Garnet Valley area, and Aston and Brookhaven.
The papers were sold to the Journal Register Co. in 2003. Dad would work part-time for them until 2008.
After Mom died in 2016, his last years were spent cooking, listening to music, and watching birds. He had seven bird feeders around the house including two for humming birds. His greatest enjoyment in the last few years was his cat Misty given him by Cindy and Katie, two friends from the County Press.
He is survived by his three sons; granddaughters Miranda, Skyler and Kyley; and grandson Anthony.
I’d like to thank Nurse Practitioner Kelly Barringer, Dr. Eric Ojerholm and a host of others at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center for the caring treatment he received.
A service will be held at 11 a.m., Oct. 7 at Holy Myrrh Bearers Church, 900 Fairview Road, Swarthmore, PA 19081 with visitation starting at 10 a.m.
Arrangements are being handled by Logan-Videon Funeral Home.