Vernon R Lawson was born on the family farm, Seneca, MO to Lawton and Ola (Golden) Lawson on the third of July 1924. He grew up behind a team of horses as he plowed the acreage of the farm homesteaded by his great-grandfather, John Norris. The furrows still impact the modern tractor as it crosses those fields. His parents taught him the value of hard work, a lesson that he lived and taught.
He attended Hickory Grove School for his first eight years, riding Ol’ Bill to school if it snowed. He graduated in 1942 from Seneca High School. Following graduation, he became a student at Joplin Junior College. His time at Joplin Juco was interrupted by World War II. He became a B-25 pilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps and was tasked with the instruction of newer pilots. At the end of the war, he returned to Joplin Junior College followed by the pursuance of a degree in Electrical Engineering at Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy at Rolla, now Missouri S&T. He was honored with Missouri Southern’s “Outstanding Alumnus Award” in 1972 and an honorary professional degree from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 2001.
Returning home from the war, Vernon began dating his high school classmate, Marguerite Buzzard. Her father, Blaine, gave him permission to court and to marry her. They were wed on August 18, 1946. Following their wedding, they lived in Rolla, Missouri while Vernon completed his studies. During his studies, Vernon spent weekends wiring many homes that had recently been given access to electricity by the Rural Electrification Administration. Upon graduation, he began employment under Frank Horton, Lamar, Missouri.
In 1954, Vernon and four other men invested, borrowed and risked their own futures to begin Allgeier, Martin & Associates in Joplin, Missouri. This company has become a major employer in southwest Missouri and continues to provide engineering services to the Four-State area and beyond. Vernon was the last surviving founder of the company.
Vernon served the church in numerous capacities:
Elder of Villa Heights Christian Church where he also taught Sunday School for many years
Member of the Board of Directors of the Four State Christian Men’s Fellowship, an organization instrumental in the planting of numerous churches in the 4-state area.
Board member of Koinonia, a Campus Ministry serving MSSU
As a professional engineer registered in nine states, he was a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers and the Academy of Electrical and Computer Engineers at UMR. He was a senior member of IEEE, the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers.
Vernon was a Past President and Board member of the Freeman Foundation.
He was instrumental in the building of Ronald McDonald House in Joplin.
He instituted and provided the initial funding of the Martha McCormick Mathematics Scholarship at MSSU. He did this while she was still living and could participate in the selection of scholarship recipients.
Many local organizations and schools have benefitted from the generosity of Vernon and Marguerite Whether it is financial support or a creation from Vernon’s woodworking shop, all have come to appreciate their support.
Too many to count are the young men and women who, because of Vernon’s encouragement, have decided to continue or pursue a college education. While we will probably never read of it in the local paper, many owe their success to his concerned, wise and timely counsel that positively changed the course of their lives.
Vernon R. Lawson married Marguerite Buzzard August 18, 1946 in Seneca, MO and she preceded him in death May 24, 2008. He was also preceded in death by his parents and one sister Isabel Rinehart Culkin.
Survivors include one son Doug Lawson and wife Cindy, Joplin; one daughter: Dana Parker and husband Billy, Joplin; one sister, Dorothy Sherwood, Richardson, TX; 5 grandchildren Bethany Lawson, Brandon Lawson (wife Madina), Blaine Lawson, Taybor Parker (wife Nicole) and Taryn Parker and 1 great-granddaughter Isabelle Lawson.
Funeral service will be held at 10:00 AM, Saturday, November 17, 2018 at the Swars Prairie Baptist Church with Larry Strong officiating. Visitation will follow the funeral. Private family committal service will be at the Seneca Cemetery.
Arrangements under the direction of Campbell-Biddlecome Funeral Home, Seneca.