OCTOBER 15, 1924 ~ SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 (AGE 94)
As one door closed, another opened.
Lawrence McKinney was born on October 15, 1924, in Whiteville, Tennessee, just hours after the death of his great grandmother, Emmaline Patrick, on a nearby farm. He was the second of 14 children born to Henry Lawrence and Emma Elizabeth McKinney.
His funeral service was held on Monday September 30, 2019 at 11:00 am at the Bartlett Chapel Church with Pastor Susie Taylor charge. Burial was in the Church Cemetery and Dixie Funeral Home (www.dixiefuneralhome.com) was in charge of the professional service.
His youth was spent helping his parents work the farm and enjoying many of the things a country life provides. His formal education began a year early when the elementary school teacher asked his parents to send him to school along with his older brother Bernard, who wouldn’t stop crying without him. Although he dropped out of Allen White School before his high school graduation in order to join the Marine Corps during WWII, his life was distinguished by his love of education and life-long learning. When he was asked what his interests were as a teenager, he replied music and chemistry. That combination of art and science continued throughout his life. He attempted to teach himself the guitar in his 40s and to begin optometry studies. Although he had a serious sense of responsibility, he also had a fun side as could be seen as he occasionally walked on the streets of Whiteville as a teen in his “zoot suit”.
Lawrence served in the United States Marine Corps from June 1943 until he was honorably discharged in January 1946. He fought in the Asiatic Pacific area including the battles of Okinawa and the Nansei Islands.
Once back on American soil, he set out to complete his education, attending A&I State College (Tennessee State University, Nashville) for a brief period. Unable to follow his dream to become a medical doctor, he relocated to Chicago, IL., where he pursued training as a Laboratory Technician.
Upon returning to Tennessee he married Nell Elizabeth Greene (Whiteville) in 1947. Their union produced two children, William Lawrence (1948) and Nancy Carol (1949). He graduated from Lane College in Jackson in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He moved his family to Los Angeles, California, where he attended the University of Southern California, and received his license as a Medical Laboratory Technician. He worked for Los Angeles County General Hospital for 25 years. Following the death of his wife of 30 years, Nell, in 1977, he retired as a Supervising Laboratory Technologist in 1978.
Fulfilling a life-long dream, Lawrence returned to Tennessee, purchased a farm outside of Bolivar and built his new home. During the construction of his house, he worked for several local agencies and in the medical lab at Bolivar General Hospital. He eventually took on the job of a full-time farmer, rais-ing crops and animals.
Bartlett Chapel was also a part of his dream. He joined the church where, as a child, he had attended with his grandparents. He remained devoted to Bartlett Chapel until his death, having served as an adult Sunday school teacher, a choir member, and its Treasurer for a number of years.
Lawrence married Alfreda Lake in 1980 and remained with her until her death in 2012. For several years they shared a passion for the education of county youth. He believed in family, community and education and the need to encourage everyone to be as good as they could be. He assisted numerous young people in pursuing their dreams of college and bettering themselves. An aunt once said, “Lawrence wants to educate everybody in Tennessee.”
Lawrence leaves behind his daughter, Nancy; grandchildren: Jessica C. McKinney, Lawrence Bernard McKinney, Daniel Paul Oliver McKinney, and LaShonda Churchwell; sisters: Louella Cox, Bessie Woods, Gladis Thomas and Bernice McKinney; brothers: Murphy McKinney, Chester McKinney and brothers-in-law: John, Greene, and Monroe.