Lawrence lived more than life of constructionPaul Lawrence helped build Red Wing from the ground up — quite literally.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Paul Lawrence helped build Red Wing from the ground up — quite literally.
Through the establishment of Lawrence Construction and Realty in 1948, Lawrence caused dozens of homes to be built not only in Red Wing, but also in the surrounding areas of southeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.
On Friday May 18, the 90-year-old Welch resident left behind the real estate business. Lawrence died at his home, surrounded by family.
The death didn’t come as much of a surprise since those close to him knew Lawrence’s health was deteriorating. After being diagnosed with melanoma last May and being told he’d live another six to nine months, Lawrence set an objective for himself.
“His goal was to live to be 90,” son Mitch said.
As March 19, 2012, came around, Lawrence achieved that goal. Almost exactly two months later, the cancer became too much for Lawrence to fight.
His legacy, however, will live on through Lawrence Realty, where former employees remember a man that never failed to give people a second chance.
Neal Siewert, who owns Siewert Construction Co., started his career in building because of Lawrence’s willingness to provide a 16-year-old high school kid with a summer job.
“He was kind of my mentor,” Siewert said. “If I wouldn’t have started there as a young boy, I don’t know if I would ever have been into homebuilding.”
There was a point in Siewert’s career after starting his own business, however, that he needed to return to Lawrence.
“I came back with my tail between my legs and asked for the job, and he gave me the job,” Siewert said. “He was just a very nice guy, basically a would-do-most-anything-for-you type of guy.”
While the long-term success of Lawrence’s company may be the reason many community members are familiar with his name, others know him for much more.
Jerry Borgen, a Red Wing Senior Center board member who creates storyboards about Red Wing men and women who fought in World War II, remembers Lawrence for his contribution to the United States Navy.
“Paul was in WWII and part of the Greatest Generation,” Borgen said.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Lawrence was aboard the Destroyer Clark, a ship that was in a convoy in the South Pacific. The convoy knocked down 21 Japanese planes in several hours.
Lawrence’s career in the military extended for another five years before he was discharged in 1946 and returned home to start the realty business that would become his lifelong career.
When away from the realty office, Lawrence found a second job right at home on the farm. His family consisted of wife Laurie and sons Mitch, John, Tom, David, Gary and Don. But they weren’t the only ones on the farm to earn Lawrence’s attention.
“He had a great love for horses,” Mitch remembered of his dad. “At one time we had as many as 110 quarter horses.”
Lawrence’s raising and breeding of the horses didn’t go unnoticed. In 1997, he received an award from the American Quarter Horse Association in honor of 40 years of breeding the animals, and he was eventually inducted into the Minnesota Quarter Horses Association’s hall of fame because of his passion for all things equestrian.
While realty and horses took up a lot of his time, Lawrence got a chance to experience more calming activities as well, specifically golf.
He also enjoyed being surrounded by family, of which he had plenty. Along with his wife and six sons, five of whom are married, Lawrence had 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
As each of them mourns the loss of a beloved family member, Mitch remembers something his dad told him only four weeks before he died that may help everyone get through the difficult process.
“He looked at me and he said, ‘You know, you can’t think about the past. You’ve got to think about the future.’”