Carolyn & Waverly: A power couple of service

Published 7:02 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of seven articles, each highlighting one of the 2023 inductees to the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence.

The Franklin Community Wall of Excellence gained eight new names via its 2023 class.

Those names included Carolyn and Waverly Lawrence, Travis W. Felts, David T. Lease, Clyde E. Parker, Frank M. Rabil, Jennifer Sing and Mona M. Sumblin.

The seventh annual Franklin Community Wall of Excellence Induction Dinner and Ceremony took place Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Cypress Cove Country Club.

As noted in the event’s program, through the vision of some local Franklin City Public Schools alumni and school personnel, the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence Inc. was established in 2016 as a program to honor former Franklin and Hayden high school students, administrators, teachers and staff who have excelled or distinguished themselves through personal and/or professional success, as well as to recognize those community members who have made significant contributions to the public schools in Franklin.

“The Wall” is located at Franklin High School, adjacent to the gymnasium, a Wall of Excellence news release stated. Names and photos of each inductee are displayed for generations of Franklin High School students and community members to see as they walk by on their way to class or an event at FHS.

CAROLYN AND WAVERLY LAWRENCE

The Lawrences are the first to be inducted onto the Wall of Excellence as a couple, and their induction came in the category of Outstanding Service.

The induction dinner and ceremony’s printed program included biographies for both Carolyn and Waverly that outlined their lives of service.

The program noted that Carolyn graduated from Franklin High School, where she played softball and basketball. She particularly excelled in basketball, averaging 22 points per game and often scoring as many as 42 points.

Her achievements on the hardwood translated into her being named Broncos Most Valuable Player as a senior, and she received all-district honors multiple times during her high school career.

After high school, Carolyn attended Norfolk State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in physical education, health, recreation, dance and driver’s education.

While at college, she continued her athletic career, playing basketball, softball and volleyball.

In Carolyn’s freshman year, the NSU basketball team defeated the Old Dominion University women’s basketball team.

After college, Carolyn went to work as a physical education teacher for Greensville County Public Schools. She continued in that role for 15 years, receiving Teacher of the Year awards during that time. She also coached junior varsity softball for three years.

Then Carolyn came to teach for Franklin City Public Schools, serving as the health and physical education teacher at the middle school.

She also implemented and helped to coach intramural girls’ basketball, volleyball and softball programs.

Later, she worked for the STOP organization. Stopinc.org notes that STOP Inc., which stands for Supporting Transformational Opportunities for People, provides services for several populations of low-to-moderate-income residents, including veterans, elderly and disabled, youth, women and more.

She served as a recreation aide and pool manager during the summer months.

Carolyn served as the sports program coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia.

She has been named Volunteer of the Year for the Franklin Department of Parks and Recreation and has also received the Young Achievers Award.

Additionally, her volunteer work extends to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

The Franklin Beautification Committee and the Southview Cemetery Committee both benefit from her membership with them.

“It would be difficult to estimate how many young folks’ lives Carolyn has impacted in a very positive way with her athletic abilities and her generous service to this community,” Wall of Excellence officials stated in the printed event program.

The printed program noted that Waverly is a 1966 Hayden High School honor graduate. 

Like Carolyn, he demonstrated an ability in athletics and then studied how to teach it in college.

During high school, he played four years of varsity basketball and varsity baseball.

He graduated and attended Hampton University where he majored in physical education, health, recreation, dance and driver’s education.

He played baseball at HU, setting a record for the highest batting average for the university.

Following graduation from college, Waverly joined the U.S. Air Force, serving in the medical field.

He was able to continue pursuing his love of baseball while in the service, playing on the all division fast-pitch softball team for two years. In 1970, he won the Worldwide Air Force Fast-Pitch softball championship.

When he returned home, he went to work as a teacher’s aide at Hayden Middle School in the 1976-77 school year, and he coached the school’s basketball team for three years.

His coaching duties further included service as an assistant for the softball and girls basketball team head coaches.

Waverly has also filled other key roles that help facilitate sporting events. He kept the score clock for Hayden Middle School’s football and basketball games, he currently serves as a gate attendant for high school football games, and he also currently assists with crowd control at basketball games.

Following his time working for FCPS, he went to work for Franklin Parks and Recreation, putting together a career there that spanned 35 years.

During that time, he accomplished much, some of the highlights of which include the following:

  • He organized and implemented social educational and sports programs for both youth and adults;
  • He assisted in the daily operational activities for a group of senior citizens;
  • He transported area youth to college basketball and football games; and
  • He served on the Senior Board of Directors for 10 years.

The printed event program then highlighted Waverly’s significant activity in the community and the accolades he has received previously.

He has served on the committee for Armory Field and the bleachers expansion program, he served on the committee for the new library, he is a former member of the Franklin Jaycees, and like Carolyn, he is a member of the Franklin Beautification Committee and is a volunteer at the Foodbank.

The Franklin Sportsman’s Association recognized him with a Certificate of Achievement in 2003. Franklin citizens recognized him the same year with the Community Special Awards. The Lambda Nu Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity honored him with its Citizen of the Year Award in 2004. 

The Franklin Tri-County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation.

He has also received the LEVOC Mission to Serve the Children of the Community Award.

Before calling up the man who would introduce Carolyn and Waverly, Wall of Excellence Vice President Brian Hedgepeth suggested they also might have qualified for induction under the Athletic Accomplishment category given their tremendous abilities in that arena.

Carolyn and Waverly were introduced at the induction dinner and ceremony by Paul Britt, who gave a succinct overview of their accomplishments, opening by noting that they have been married for 37 years.

“They say behind every good man is a good woman,” Britt said. “Vice versa, behind every good woman is a good man, so they all go hand-in-hand together.”

He noted that their union has led to two children and multiple grandchildren thus far.

Britt pointed out that there are quite a few famous couples in life, and then revealed his ambitious frame of reference for this statement by citing a few examples, all of which were Biblical: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Ruth and Boaz, and Isaac and Rebekah.

“I’d like to add the latest edition — Waverly and Carolyn,” he said, “for they have improved the quality of life of both youth and seniors throughout this community.”

Carolyn opened her brief acceptance speech by noting that Franklin is her home, her community, and she shared an example of her working with children to highlight her priorities: She is supportive of their athletic endeavors, but she stresses that their education comes first.

“Even in the community, I’m still part of the school system, but I’m not in the school system, so I’m teaching outside of the school,” she said. “I’m still teaching kids what’s right and what’s wrong and keeping them off the street.”

She shared with those in attendance an approach to life that she has practiced since she was a child, and she explained how it informs her service to the community today.

“I always told myself when I was growing up, I will stand tall,” she said. “I will never fall short, because I believe in what that Man upstairs has for me — it’s better than what I already have, so I’m going to continue to serve my community. I’m going to continue to work through the high school, Parks and Recreation, any programming going on if I’m available to be there, I’m going to be there.”

She expressed her love to those in attendance and said she was honored to be there.

“I honestly want to thank you for having me here tonight to be honored,” she said. “Thank you.”

Waverly thanked everyone for coming out to the induction dinner and ceremony, and he thanked the Wall of Excellence committee for selecting Carolyn and him for induction.

As he began his acceptance speech, he said, “I’d first like to give my honor to God for the health and strength I receive each day. Next I would like to give my honor to my family.”

He asked his family to stand, noting many family members were present.

He indicated that he did not have want for a mentor growing up, because they were at his kitchen table. He explained that his mother, father and siblings had a great, positive impact on his life.

“There were three things we had to do in our household,” he said, and they were as follows:

1.) Go to church on Sunday;

2.) Go to school Monday-Friday; and

3.) Respect adults.

“And that’s what we did,” he said.

He said the next great thing that came into his life was his wife, Carolyn.

“It changed my life around because at a certain point in life, it seems that men start taking the wrong direction, and I was making left turns when I should have been making right turns,” he said. “But she straightened me out.”

He indicated that Carolyn had a major impact on his life because they shared interests and goals.

“The main thing we shared was to stay in Franklin and positively impact this community,” he said. “We had plenty of opportunities to go other places in the world, to make a lot more money, but we’re country, and we love the city of Franklin.”

As he continues to work with senior citizens and young people, he noted that he continues to learn things from them regularly.

In conclusion, he left those in attendance with a principle that has shaped his life.

He said, “One of the greatest things I live by … there is a saying that ‘God doesn’t give us what we can handle. God helps us handle what we are given.’ Thank you, and have a good night.”