OBITUARY: Thomas Edward Lawwell

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Thomas Edward Lawwell

Thomas Edward Lawwell, age 87, peacefully passed away at Maury Regional Hospital on February 12, 2022, surrounded by family.

Ed married Jane Nichols in 1963, and they celebrated their 50th anniversary before her death in 2013.

He is survived by his two children: daughter, Lindsey “Lindy” (David) Gagnon of Murfreesboro and son, Tommy (Christy) Lawwell of Cumming, GA; four grandchildren: Specialist Devin (Hannah) Lawwell, Catrena Lawwell (Carlos Rodriguez), Linden (Morgan) Turner, and Ryan Gagnon; three great-grandchildren: Cooper Lawwell, Walker Lawwell, and Clary Rodriguez; sisters: Ethel (Homer) Kelley, Janie (Bob) Burke; brother, Jim (Geraldine) Lawwell, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Allen and Mattie Mae Claxton Lawwell; sisters Mary Lee Cartwright, Evelyn Irwin, Gale Limbo; brothers James Lawwell and Robert Lawwell.

Ed was born on August 14, 1934, the fifth of nine children, in the Halls Mill Community of Bedford County, TN. Affectionately known as “Rab” to his family and friends, he fondly reminisced about his upbringing and credited those early experiences to the strong work ethic, determination, and perseverance he demonstrated throughout his life. Some highlights of his later years were joining his Unionville School classmates for monthly morning fellowship at the Halls Mill store and attending the annual community sorghum squeeze. He lived and worked for most of his adult life in Columbia, Tennessee, but he never forgot the lessons he learned during his formative years in Halls Mill.

Though Ed did not anticipate going to college, a fateful meeting with a recruiter from Martin College during his senior year in high school helped him to see that it might be possible financially with hard work and scholarships, so he decided that he had nothing to lose by “giving it a try.” The gamble paid off because he graduated from Martin College in 1954 and earned his degree from Wittenberg College in 1957. While at Wittenberg, he decided to become a lawyer, and he set his sights on Vanderbilt Law School. Ed worked for Arnold Engineering Development Center in the Mach VII facility in 1957 and began what he called “the most productive period” of his life when he entered Vanderbilt Law School in 1958. During his time at Vanderbilt, he was a member of the Vanderbilt Law Review and graduated as a member of the Order of the Coif.

After graduating from law school in 1961, Ed began his legal practice in Columbia, TN that spanned 50 years. He was first employed by the firm of Shelton and Shelton, where he focused on real estate law and was heavily involved in work for the phosphate industry. In the 1970s, he also held two public legal positions as judge for the City of Columbia and as attorney for the Columbia Power and Water System. In 1985, he established a partnership that eventually became Lawwell, Dale, and Graham and established Maury County Title Company with his law partners, Frank Dale and William Graham. The latter part of his practice was spent primarily representing Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, though he also continued to do estates and real estate work. During his career, Ed was very active in the Maury County Bar Association and served as president.

Ed also served on various committees for the Tennessee Bar Association, served on the Medical Malpractice Review Board, and was a Hearing Examiner on the Board of Professional Responsibility of the State of Tennessee. He was a fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation and served on various committees before being elected as one of nine directors of the Foundation in 1993. In 1997, Ed became Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Bar Foundation and was part of establishing the Legal History Project, for which he was interviewed in 2013. Ed also received the Liberty Bell Award in 2013 from the Maury County Bar Association.

In 2021, Ed gained the distinction of being a member of Kiwanis Club of Columbia for 60 years and served as its president in 1969-1970. He was a long-time member of The Graymere Country Club and an avid golfer. Ed enjoyed playing baseball in his early years and for most of his life was a dedicated hunter and fan of all Vanderbilt sports and the Atlanta Braves. He was interested in a variety of topics but particularly loved to read history.

The family wishes to offer special thanks to the staff of The Bridge at Columbia, Dr. Gibran Naddy, Dr. Carey Barr, and the Critical Care Unit staff at Maury Regional Hospital for their loving, compassionate care. Memorials may be made to Crowell’s Chapel Cemetery, c/o Randall Crowell at 296 Burnt Hill Road, Unionville, TN 37180, or Hospice Compassus Foundation, 830 Hatcher Lane, Columbia TN 38401.

Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. A graveside service will be conducted Wednesday at 2:30 P.M. at Crowells Chapel Cemetery, 825 Halls Mill Road, Shelbyville, TN 37160. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home. Family and friends will serve as active pallbearers. Condolences may be extended online at www.oakesandnichols.com.

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