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William Clayton Lawrence | PASSAGES

William Clayton Lawrence -
William Clayton Lawrence
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William Clayton Lawrence died July 25, 2014. He was 93.

The youngest of three sons of Canadian emigrants, Bill was born in Spokane on Feb. 4, 1921. The family moved to Wenatchee soon after, then settled in Everett where the boys grew up.

Bill kept busy with a number of jobs: delivering papers, mowing lawns, acting as the local butcher’s helper, then lumber mill worker as a teenager. After graduation from high school he was financially unable to go to college, due in part to his dad’s untimely death in 1933 and the onset of the Great Depression. He and his two brothers continued working in the mills.

Bill’s best friend encouraged him to apply to Whitman College in Walla Walla and meet the registrar there since he knew they were looking for more male students. Accepted and promised on-campus work to help defray college costs, Bill entered Whitman in 1941. His jobs included night watchman and later assistant to the German language professor. However, college was delayed once more by Bill’s service with the Ninth U.S. Army in Europe (1943-46).

Bill returned to Whitman and graduated in 1947 along with fellow student Elizabeth (Betsy) Willis.

Bill and Betsy married that summer and took the train to New York City upon Bill’s acceptance to the Columbia University School of Social Work. They found housing in an old-style tenement on Delancey Street, which was their address for the next two years. Levittown (on Long Island) then offered inexpensive houses to veterans, so they purchased their first house there - a fortuitous opportunity as their first son Scott soon arrived.

After graduating from Columbia University with a master's degree in social work, Bill continued his studies in sociology and social research at Columbia and New York University.

His first job after graduation from Columbia was at Union Settlement, a neighborhood in East Harlem. He then took a position as director of a settlement house in Kansas City, Missouri, followed by his return to Columbia University in New York as an associate professor and lecturer.

He worked on a juvenile delinquency project and a project for youth on the Lower East Side which were forerunners to the Johnson Administration’s Anti-Poverty Program. In 1962 he moved to Washington, D.C. to work with the Kennedy Administration, and later the Johnson Administration’s Office for Economic Opportunity.

During his time in D.C. Bill acted as chief of the Office of Research and Program Evaluation.

Bill returned to New York in 1968 where he resumed teaching at Columbia and worked with the Lindsay Administration’s anti-poverty program as the assistant administrator for the Human Resources Administration of New York City.

In 1971, the family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where Bill taught at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Bill directed a national in-service planning and management training program for personnel of Area Agencies on Aging, and served as a research associate at the Institute of Gerontology until he retired in 1986. Bill was instrumental in developing the curriculum on social welfare administration at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. He was a leading architect in designing practice methods courses that were widely adopted by other schools of social work.

Bill and his wife Betsy retired to Bainbridge Island in Washington to be close to their three sons and their families, having convinced them all that the Northwest was the only place to live.

Bill is survived by his loving wife and friend of 67 years, Elizabeth W. Lawrence; his three sons, Scott (Susan) Lawrence of Bainbridge Island, Ross Lawrence of Vashon Island, and Douglas (Ramona) Lawrence of Issaquah; and his four grandchildren, S. Christian Lawrence, Kathryn E. Beckwith, Bayley C. Lawrence and Elliot C. Lawrence.  Bill was preceded in death by his father, Samuel J. Lawrence, mother Edith W. Lawrence, and brothers Charles C. Lawrence and Douglas H. Lawrence.

A memorial service for Bill will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17 at Grace Church on Bainbridge Island.

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