Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grandpa's Big Day

Last Friday morning I had the pleasure of traveling to Poplar Bluff to see my grandfather honored for his service as chairperson for the Highway 67 expansion project in southeast Missouri.   It was quite the celebration, and there were plenty of photo opportunities to get Grandpa "in action" - accepting his commendation, speaking with State Rep Joann Emerson and other local and state officials.  But my very favorite shot of him was one that I captured "on the sly", walking up beside him as he sat on the stage listening to the other speakers:

Grandpa was featured in their hometown paper the Sunday previous to the celebration.  The opening paragraph of the article read:

"Tom Lawson, who was born in 1932 on a farm two and one-half miles southeast of Neelyville, Mo., remembers when U.S. 67 was a "narrow, crooked road" during his childhood.  He had no idea he would be one of the leaders in the effort to get 50 miles of Highway 67 four-laned north of Poplar Bluff, Mo.  He was instrumental in the campaign to convince Poplar Bluff residents to approve a half cent sales tax for Highway 67 on April 5, 2005."

"...Completion of the $180 million project "16 months early and under budget" will be celebrated August 26th, which will be proclaimed Tom Lawson Day by Poplar Bluff Mayor Ed DeGaris."

Grandpa has always been a "do-er" - he knows how to get things done, and isn't afraid to put the hard work in to make something happen. When my dad and stepmother first met and married back in the early 80's, Grandpa was the superintendent of one of the largest school districts in St. Louis. After he retired about 3-4 years later, he and Grandmother moved down to Poplar Bluff to be closer to both of their parents.  But he was not content to stay retired, and instead accepted the position of the city manager of Poplar Bluff, a position he held from 1991 until his second retirement in 2003.

I knew he had been working on this project for some time, and had heard him and Grandmother talk about meetings, etc., but I had no idea of the amount of time or effort he had put in over the last six years, to see this project come to fruition.

Hwy 67 Ribbon Cutting with State Rep Joann Emerson
 He has been the chair of the project since 2005, and now I realize more about why there were times that he and Grandmother made a quick trip to St. Clair for holidays and other visits, but needed to get back to PB.  I was so proud to be able to hear all of the people who spoke before him, talking about the Hwy 67 project, the collaboration between MODOT and the Hwy 67 Corporation and others - and the job that Grandpa did in bringing it all together.  Of course he was very humble, as he always is, and made sure that he mentioned many of those who were involved in big and small ways - taking the focus off of himself.

I know my siblings would have really liked to be there as well; but since it was a Friday and a long drive for many of them, I was happy to join Dad and Mom, and "represent all the grandkids", as Tara said!  Congratulations, Grandpa!  We love you!


Tara said...

Awesome post Nance!! I love all the pictures. Thanks for going on behalf of all of us. It's so great that Grandpa was recognized for all of his work and I am really glad that you and Mom and Dad were able to be there for it.


Tom D said...

Hey Nanc.....saw your gramps on the ID Channel tonight. They profiled a murder case from P.B. that happened in 1992 when he was the City Manager. I recognized the giant Hwy 67 sign. Keep in touch.