William M. Lawrence, 83, of Buffalo, a strong family man and retired railroad official, died Sunday (Oct. 27, 1996) in Sisters Hospital.
A Marine Corps veteran of World War II who was honored for a long sales and safety investigations career with two railroads, his strongest legacy remains the large family to which he was deeply devoted.
"He was always there for us," said Joan M. Lawrence, one of seven children. "We kept him busy."
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic Church, 157 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga, after prayers in the Sauer-Lynette-Amigone Funeral Home, 1933 Kensington Ave. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Cheektowaga.
Born in Norfolk, Va., Lawrence was a railroad salesman after graduating from high school and then, in 1942, enlisted in the Marine Corps.
He served as a high-speed radio operator and pistol expert in both offensive and defensive operations at Cape Gloucester, Va., and took part in the invasions of Okinawa, Ie Shima and the Ryukyu Islands in 1945.
After his discharge, he returned to his prewar job with the New York Central Railroad in Syracuse. He worked in the baggage and mail department, then in passenger sales, and finally in the legal department, where he became a claims agent.
Responsible for investigating railroad accidents, Lawrence became a strong advocate for safety measures around trains and began a lifelong interest in model trains.
He also worked for the Brinks Security Agency in Syracuse, until his transfer to Buffalo in 1965 and a continuation of his legal work with the successor Penn Central Railroad line. He retired in 1978.
He enjoyed sports, particularly hockey, and traveled frequently with his son's teams. He was involved in team and tournament organization, here and in Canada.
"He enjoyed working with his hands and recently built an entire village of houses to go along with his trains," his daughter said. "He had a special love for Alaskan Malamute dogs, and was given a puppy, Kip Nuk Too, by his son Bill. He trained it to be his special companion."
Surviving are his wife of 54 years, the former Anne Louise Ealy; two daughters, Jan L. Chatwin of Williamsville and Joan of Cheektowaga; five sons, William T. of Bliss, Thomas E. and Cary A. of Williamsville, John R. of Eggertsville, and Jay M. of Lancaster; and four grandchildren.