LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – The Lee County Community suffered a tremendous loss over the weekend as Johnny Lawrence, a beloved first responder and community leader, died inside East Alabama Medical Center’s ICU after a hard-fought battle with COVID-19.
Lawrence was admitted to EAMC back on July 12th and died Friday afternoon, surrounded by those he loved most at his bedside. Lawrence was 62.
This weekend the sound of sirens wailing filled the streets as the Auburn Fire Division performed an apparatus procession in front of The Lawrence Family home. The action was a heartfelt display of sorrow and solidarity for the beloved retired battalion chief and his family.
“Julia and I and all the Lawrence family want to express our thanks for the love and support over the last few weeks. We especially want to thank the staff of EAMC for the outstanding care they gave Johnny. We also want to thank our friends at the Auburn fire Division for how they honored Johnny Friday night and Saturday with a procession of apparatus trucks at our house,” shared Maggie Lawrence.
Lawrence spent 29 years as an Auburn firefighter. He joined the fire family of brothers and sisters as soon as he graduated from Auburn High School. Lawrence continued his public service career as a Lee County Commissioner. He was elected in 2002 and was the sitting commissioner at the time of his death. Lawrence was a talented photographer. He worked for OA News in both news and sports, as did his wife Maggie as a local reporter.
Lawrence served all corners of his community and wore many hats while working to fill the cracks for those in need. Lawrence was ready and willing to lend a hand to a friend or stranger. Lawrence was born with a servents heart.
“It’s been a tough past few days with the passing of retired Battalion Chief Johnny Lawrence. He was part of this family even after he left. He would call and check up on us after big calls or show up at a scene with Gatorade and do whatever he could to be a part of us,” shared Auburn Fire Lt. Jason Rawls.
As a County Commissioner, Johnny also found time to support the Lee County Emergency Management Agency and its new director Rita Smith.
“Johnny, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and encouragement here at the Lee County EMA. You understood what first responders do because you were the first responder. We will never forget you or your support for us.” shared Smith.
Most of all, Lawrence loved the Lord, along with his wife Maggie and their daughter Julia. Julia was in the marching band at Auburn University. Lawrence often shared stories of his daughter’s successes. Lawrence was a proud dad of the kind, reliable, and intelligent young lady he raised alongside his beloved Maggie.
“Dad would want us to encourage everyone to get out and do what we can to help the community by donating blood to Life South in Opelika. Finally, the best way you can honor Johnny is to wear your masks,” shared Maggie and Julia Lawrence.
Lawrence’s life was cut short, but his legacy is everlasting in a community made better by his outreach and care. His torch remains lit and is carried on by those he loves lighting the way.
The Lawrence family will hold a memorial service later when it becomes safe for family and friends to gather. You can honor Lawrence by donating to either the East Alabama Food Bank, The Bennie Adkins Foundation, Auburn United Methodist Church, or the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center in Auburn.