These are just some notes I’ve put together—perhaps someday they will be an essay. But in the meantime, he is owed a place here…
No man can be summed up in a few lines. With that in mind, a few biographical facts, and some random recollections of friends follow.
President of his class at Harvard for four years, Harvard varsity football in 1899 and 1900, varsity crew 1899 and 1901.
Upon leaving college, he entered the office of George Mixter, banker and note broker, at 28 State Street, Boston.”–R. M. Lawrence, The Descendants of Major Samuel Lawrence.
Became a cotton merchant, first with George H. McFadden, then as a Boston partner of McFadden-Sands, and from 1931 on, senior partner of James Lawrence and Co.–Obituary, unknown newspaper, March, 1969.
Chief Marshall of his 25th Reunion at Harvard.
Active as director and trustee of many charitable, civic, and business enterprises, including Groton School, the Boston Safe Deposit & Trust Co., and the Boston Lying-In Hospital.–Obituary, unknown newspaper, March, 1969.
Called “Mr. Grand” by one of his grandchildren and the name stuck.
(Note, the Roman numeral designations for all subsequent James Lawrences stem from him, and are based on the number of James Lawrences alive in 1970-1971. My brother James, born in ’70, who goes by “IV”, is actually the sixth overall. His son, James, who goes by “Jack,” is the seventh.)
Mr. Grand was tough. In his youth, he used to sleep in the unheated Groton rooms, through the winter, with only a sheet over him. He later said that if you didn’t move a muscle, the air over your body would form almost a protective, insulating layer between your body and the cold. Frequently, he would leave the window open, while water in a drinking glass froze, and snow blew in. This is not a tall tale. Many have corroborated it.
After his death, his son, James Lawrence, Jr. (1907-1995), my grandfather, wrote a brief memorial for him, and had it printed with a red cover. It is a loving tribute. If you find it, sit down for a good read on this fabulous man. A sample follows:
“James Lawrence” by Maria Di Carpenetto Lawrence
[Referring to the bust above]…the sculpture does not reveal that he was in all other respects, as well, the handsomest of men. Six feet three inches in his prime (he used to mutter with a twinkle in his eye that somewhere along the way he had lost an inch or two) he never ceased to hold himself like a young oak. Sitting in the library at Lower Faulkner with him night after night, I would steal a glance towards him occasionally to note admiringly how straight he sat. Kipling could well have had him in mind when he spoke of [a] man’s being ‘like a lance at rest.’ Father was… always… not just some of the time.
–James Lawrence, Jr.