Waverly Lawrence receives tributes

Published 11:04 am Wednesday, April 2, 2014

FRANKLIN—A person walking into The Sportman’s Association in Franklin this past Saturday afternoon didn’t need to know about Waverly “Moses” Lawrence to know that he’s loved. The words of praise — and hugs — from family, friends and former students said it all during the appreciation banquet.

H. Gregory Reid, left, presents Waverly “Moses” Lawrence with a plaque of appreciation for his decades of service to Franklin youth. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS

H. Gregory Reid, left, presents Waverly “Moses” Lawrence with a plaque of appreciation for his decades of service to Franklin youth. — STEPHEN H. COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS

A native and lifelong resident of Franklin, Lawrence recently retired after dedicating 35 years to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Over the decades, he was especially concerned with nurturing boys and girls involved in various athletic and educational programs.

During an earlier interview with H. Gregory Reid, he said, “I wanted to see the youth of the city grow through life and educational achievements. Therefore, I got involved with the programing to help the next generation overcome many of life’s obstacles and achieve their goals. Well, over the past 35 years I’ve earned the respect of the youth and parents to believe they can achieve anything they put there minds too.”

A 1966 graduate of Hayden High School, Lawrence furthered his education at what was then Hampton Institute. He also served in the Air Force from 1968 to 1972. Working with the City of Franklin started in 1978 before being asked to help with youth programs.

Among the guest speakers who came to testify about Lawrence were Paul Britt, Herman Charity, Littleton Parker and Larry Rose. Following their recollections, Lula Barnes got up to tell of how Lawrence did “a whole of little great things” for her and the senior citizens at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

“One thing he did was to bring newspapers to us,” she said. “He didn’t really work for us, but worked with us. Whatever we needed. He’s a real nice man.”

Reid, who organized the tribute and served as emcee, introduced Lawrence’s wife, Carolyn, as the proverbial “woman behind a good man.”

In closing her remarks, she said, “I love you dearly. It’s been a great 29 years being your wife. I love you.”

They are the parents of Venita Smith, and grandparents to Zakiyah and Zariah Smith.

The son of Helen and Waverly Lawrence Sr., he is also brother to Derryl Lawrence, Yvonne Rose, Carolyn Blaine, Helen Smith and Barbara Walker.

“The thing that touches me the most…I thought about our growing up on South Street; we were poor but didn’t know it. We had love, family and community,” said Rose.

She remembered that Waverly and Carolyn not only fed many of the children from the community, but also provided them.

“The more they gave, the more God blessed them,” Rose said. “Most of all he’s my brother. I thank God for being his sibling.”

“I just thank God for my brother,” echoed Derryl.

Called on to speak for himself, Lawrence said, “I can smell the roses today. Though it’s raining outside, there’s sunshine here.

“Nothing’s great without family, and you have become my family.”

The foundation in his life came from his parents, church, school and to learn to respect all adults, he added.

Though retired, Lawrence said he’ll continue to work with seniors — “I love my seniors” — as well as the Franklin community.

As he looked out into the audience, Lawrence saw many adults who were students that grew up through his guidance at the rec center.

“Seeing you people grow has been the highlight of my life,” he said. “Truly, I thank you from my heart.”