Kenneth W. Lawson, a longtime teacher in the Hempstead and Lynbrook school districts who was known for his generosity, has died at the age of 92.
Lawson died on June 29 of lung cancer at his daughter’s home in upstate Mount Morris. His family remembered him as a calm and thoughtful man who was always giving others a helping hand.
Lawson taught math and science for more than 30 years at the Hempstead and Lynbrook high schools before retiring in 1985, when his family said he devoted his time to volunteering, singing in the church choir and pursuing his outdoor passions of leisurely bike riding and canoeing.
His family described him as a man who led by example and went out of his way to be kind and attentive in his many roles as a teacher, friend, colleague and father.
“He was just always kind, always thinking about others,” said his daughter Joyce Randall, 54, of Mount Morris. “He was so much to everybody, in his unassuming quiet way.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1925, Lawson grew up in Freeport and attended local schools. He graduated from Freeport High School in 1943 and then served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was sent to Belgium and central Germany, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Upon returning to New York after the war, he enrolled at Hofstra University, where he received a teaching degree around 1950, his family said.
In 1951, he married Inez Lovelass, with whom he had exchanged many letters during the war. They then began building their life on Long Island, first moving to Oceanside and then to Baldwin in 1956, where they lived for many years and raised their two children, Bruce and Joyce, his family said.
When not teaching, Lawson was often volunteering at his church’s thrift store or at the local soup kitchen. He was a ubiquitous presence in the South Nassau Unitarian Universalist Congregation, friends said, where he served on numerous committees and sang bass in the choir.
Lawson was the kind of man who drove parishioners to church if they were not able to, would hand out his phone number to strangers in need, and did not expect to be thanked, friends said.
“He was an inspiration for me, of here’s how you live your life. You do for others,” said fellow congregant Barbara Singer, 72, of Port Washington. “He saw the good in you and told you that.”
Lawson shared his love of biking and canoeing with his family and his friends. On many a Saturday, Charles Stieger, a fellow Lynbrook High School teacher, now 92, said he and Lawson went on canoeing excursions together and enjoyed the beauty of the outdoors.
His kindness was genuine and came “so naturally to him,” said his daughter-in-law, Kim Lawson, 44, of Milanville, Pennsylvania.
In addition to his daughter, Lawson is survived by his son Bruce, of Milanville, Pennsylvania; and three grandchildren. His wife died in 2006.
A service will be held for Lawson at 2 p.m. Aug. 18 at the South Nassau Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 228 South Ocean Ave. in Freeport. In lieu of flowers, his family has asked for donations to the church, the Interfaith Nutrition Network at 211 Fulton Ave. in Hempstead or the Livingston County Hospice at 2 Murray Hill Dr. in Mount Morris.