I knew John Lawson twice; as a Writers Forum member, and concurrently as a Record Searchlight employee. When I started at the paper, John was pretty much retired, but to keep his fingers in the game, he took on one of the paper’s weeklies for the community of Shasta Lake.
Lawson, a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in journalism after working in the logging industry, beginning his career at the Record Searchlight in May of 1960.
Not only was he a charter member of WF, he belonged to the Shasta Historical Society, the Salvation Army, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center board, and the Forest Council of Turtle Bay. He also served on the Shasta County Grand Jury.
Gilbert Moore, past City Editor and Managing Editor at the paper, said this (in Marc Beauchamp’s recent RS blog): “John was a true original, and it is hard to describe some of his powerful gifts in the ordinary terms of journalism,” adding, “I wanted him, with his brains and keen observational skills and knowledge of science to cover a science writer’s convention in Berkeley. John found more excuses for not going. Finally, in exasperation, I yelled, ‘Okay, John, then DON’T go!’ Which instantly made John decide to go. He went — and among his excellent reportage from the convention was an editorial page essay on John’s stroll around his old Berkeley college campus and the memories this stroll brought him. That column won a first prize in (a) statewide California journalism competition.”
But Lawson’s interests went beyond writing. He loved music. He enjoyed singing and playing the trombone with local bands, especially for seniors in nursing homes.
John Lawson plays trombone on 80th birthday with local school’s jazz band
Lawson is survived by his four sons, five grandchildren, and his wife, Clara, 86. A memorial will be held at the First United Methodist Church sometime in May.
In Memorium by Past President Larry Watters