John Hollis Lawrence, age 93, who counted his years leading the Monticello-Jasper County Chamber of Commerce as among the most fulfilling of his life, died peacefully on Feb. 4, 2014, in Atlanta.
Mr. Lawrence led the chamber in the early ‘90s and was named Citizen of the Year in 1994. During that time the chamber grew steadily and he began a Fourth of July fireworks celebration in Monticello.
Mr. Lawrence was also a founding member of Jasper County’s 911 commission and a board member of the Jasper County literacy commission.
For the last 26 years of his life, Mr. Lawrence lived in Turtle Cove on Jackson Lake among a tightly-knit circle of friends. Beverly, his wife of fifty-six years, was with him until she died in 2002.
He enjoyed gardening, traveling, refinishing furniture and fishing for crappie in Jackson Lake. He played bridge at the Turtle Cove clubhouse into his 90s. He served in the Navy in World War II, becoming a commissioned officer after the war. He graduated from Tulane University in 1949.
Mr. Lawrence was born in 1920 to Overton and Leidus Sigman Lawrence, the fifth of seven children.
In addition to milking the cows and other home chores, young Hollis became the school janitor, lighting the fires each morning at Mansfield High. He played center on the basketball team.
Mr. Lawrence learned clerical skills at Southern Business University in Atlanta and supported himself with a paper route for the Times-Georgian.
Just before World War II he joined the Navy, becoming a yeoman. He rose to chief petty officer and served in the Pacific on the staff of Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander-in-chief of the fleet.
Transferring to New Orleans, he met Beverly Grace Cox of New Orleans and they married in 1945.
Moving to Atlanta, Mr. Lawrence began a 29-year career with Southern Bell. He was the phone company manager in Savannah and later in Tucker. After retiring from Southern Bell, he worked for the IRS in Atlanta.
After they moved to Jasper County, the Lawrences were active volunteers for Zoo Atlanta and at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Refuge and Dauset Trails. At the time of his death, Mr. Lawrence was active at Monticello Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Lawrence is survived by his children and spouses, Jay Lawrence and Sally Dunn of Atlanta, Jennifer Lawrence of Charlotte, N.C., Janice Lawrence of Stone Mountain, and Jeff and Linda Lawrence of Woodstock; grandchildren, Sam Lawrence, Jack Lawrence, Andrew Lawrence, Sarah Lawrence, Megan Lane Hart, Angela Lane McLaughlin, John Lawrence, and Rachael Lawrence; and great- grandchildren, Lucas Gleason-Lawrence, Eleanor Hart, and Hollis Franklin Hart. He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services for Mr. Lawrence will be at 11 a.m. Feb. 7 at Monticello Presbyterian Church, followed by a reception in the church fellowship hall.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Georgia Wildlife Federation, 11600 Hazelbrand Road, Covington, Ga., 30014.
For more information, visit www.jordanfuneralhomemonticello.com.