MASON CITY — There did not seem to be much Murray Lawson did not do during his 89 years.
“A Renaissance man,” his pastor, the Rev. Wendy Abrahamson, called him.
Lawson was an active business owner and civic leader, veteran, lover of history and music, and a state representative.
But many will argue that what he did best was offer his hand of friendship to the citizens of Mason City.
Lawson died Sunday at Good Shepherd Health Center.
“The community has lost a great, great citizen,” said Ann MacGregor of Mason City. “Murray was truly a remarkable man.”
Lawson grew up in Mason City, served in the Navy, earned a degree from Grinnell College and came back to town to settle. He and his wife, Jean, raised two children, Mark and Julia.
He owned and operated Klipto Printing, Publishing & Office Supply Co., which he purchased in 1956. Prior to that time, he was employed by Maytag Co. in Newton. He also operated Lawson Leasing Co.
“He was a very good businessman,” said longtime Mason City resident, Art Fischbeck. “And he was as honest as could be — his word was good.”
That trust propelled Lawson to two terms as a Republican state representative in former House District 17 in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
His list of his civic activities was long and diverse — from membership in the Rotary Club, the North Iowa Fairgrounds board of directors and Friends of the Library — to membership in St. John’s Episcopal Church, Mason City Chamber of Commerce and veterans groups. He loved music and history in equal measure.
Abrahamson called Lawson “a wonderfully gracious, really thoughtful man.”
She recalled that when she moved to Mason City from Fredericksburg, Va., the home of Revolutionary War hero Hugh Mercer, she was met with a surprise.
“I walked by the Hugh Mercer Apothecary shop every day when I lived in Fredericksburg,” she said. “When I moved here, Murray gave me a print of that shop — and he never knew I walked by it.” He soon found out that Lawson was a history buff who would have known about Mercer.
“What an amazing man; he knew it would have meant something to me,” she said.
The Rev. Elliott Blackburn, retired rector of St. John’s, agreed that Lawson was loved by many.
“Murray was, what I would call, a practical intellectual,” Blackburn said. “He had a fine mind with a good understanding and deep appreciation for his Christian faith and ethics, European and American history, and the fine arts.
“Yet he was able to apply that understanding in practical ways in his family, business, government and church leadership. He exhibited both determination and joy in all that he did.
“He had true appreciation for those things that make life good.”
— Mr. Lawson’s obituary can be found on Page A8 today.