by Gina Lawson Young
Forward by WT Cox
Randolph County has been blessed to be called “home” by many people who have made the area of North Carolina a great place to live and grow up. One of those people is Grady Lawson. If you grew up here in Eastern Randolph County, you most certainly have benefited in some way from the accomplishments of Grady Lawson. Whether you knew him as a friend or never met him personally, he had a large impact on our county. I remember Grady as being an elder in our church; Parks Crossroads Christian Church, and from his selling of Christmas trees every year in support of ERHS athletics. It was a ritual of our family every year to go the day after Thanksgiving and purchase a tree from Grady. He would be there selling trees, weather rain or snow, and was usually there until the last tree was sold. Grady was also known for his passion for baseball and for the young boys that played the sport. You could almost find Grady whenever there was a Legion Baseball or ERHS baseball game being played, he was their most avid fan and supporter. Grady cared deeply for his community and will be remembered not only as a successful businessman but for the impact he made in the lives of all who knew him.
The following was submitted by Gina Lawson:
A little background – William Grady Lawson was born in King, NC on November 19, 1929. The family, which included his younger brother Gene, his mother Eva Estelle, and his father Henry, moved to Bennett, NC when Grady was young and where Henry was a tenant farmer. His two sisters, Doris and Peggy were born there. Shortly after, when Grady was 14, they moved to Ramseur where Henry was a tenant farmer for Hugh York. Later, Henry was able to buy the property from Mr. York. Grady continued to live there until he married. His mother died suddenly when he was 18 (she was 39) of a heart ailment. Grady fell in love with a girl from his high school and married Helen Marie Carmac from Ramseur in 1948 in her mother’s home. He always referred to her as “the prettiest girl at Ramseur High School”. Grady worked at Pugh Oil near the old Blue Mist on 64 and he and Helen lived across the road in a small white house. They moved to their current house a year later (Uncle Willie built it) and were there until he entered the Air Force 2 years later. He did his basic training in Texas, and then they moved to Montana where he was stationed from 1952-1954. (He hitchhiked home from Montana to get Helen and then drove them both back.) They were then stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany from 1954-1956 where daughter Gina was born. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. Upon returning to the US after leaving the service, they moved back to the house they would live in for the rest of their lives. Grady was able to borrow a little money and purchased the Ramseur Shell Station shortly after his return. Son Mike was born in 1961. Grady opened Ramseur Auto Parts in the mid-60s. After over 30 years in the service station business, he sold the station in the mid-80s to concentrate on the auto parts store until his retirement. He also operated Lawson Wrecker Service. Grady was always active in community service and volunteerism because of his tremendous love for children and his hope that they could have better futures through a good education. He served on the Randolph County Board of Education for over 40 years. He also served on the board of Randolph Community College for 28 years. He always strived to do what was best for the kids. He sponsored many local children’s baseball teams over the years and was later an avid supporter and sponsor of the American Legion Baseball team. He was most proud of the fact that his players earned over $2 million in college scholarship money-that, and whenever they beat Asheboro. He was an active fundraiser for Eastern Randolph High School Athletics. For 32 years, he organized and ran a Christmas tree lot that benefited the program. He was inducted into the American Legion Hall of Fame and was in the inaugural class of the Eastern Randolph Hall of Fame. The baseball field at Eastern Randolph is named in his honor. He was also honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Jim Hunt in 1984. Despite the accolades, Grady is probably most remembered for the small, kind things he did everyday-buying a ball glove or cleats for a kid who couldn’t afford them, charging a college student only $5 for a tow, helping out boys doing community service, and taking baseball players out to eat after games. Above all else, he loved his family fiercely.
Grady passed away on November 20, 2017. Helen still lives in their original home in Ramseur. Daughter Gina lives with her husband Tom in Raleigh. They have three children-Brad and wife Casey and their son Truitt, Kelly, and Ali and her fiancé Cary. Son Mike lives with his wife Amy and their children Bobby, Carson, and Kylee in Lexington. Every year we present the Grady Lawson Memorial Scholarship to a senior at ERHS based on academics, athletics, character, financial need, and community involvement.