Virginia Mae Lawrence

Funeral service for Virginia Lawrence will be 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 5, 2021, at the New Church of the Living God with Pastor James E. Johnson officiating. Mrs. Lawrence will lie in state 5-7 p.m. Monday, January 4, 2021, at the Johnson Funeral Home 203 N. Washington Street. Services may be viewed via livestream on Facebook and YouTube by visiting the New Church of the Living God’s website

Virginia Lawrence was born to Ellsworth and Louteamer Tripplett-Wellmaker on October 9, 1948, in the “Windy City,” Chicago, IL. She was the oldest of six children.

She graduated from Lincoln Sr. High School where she was a member of the Service Girls Club, Neighborhood Youth Corps, and Business Administration Club. After graduation, and during the Civil Rights Movement, Virginia became the first Black person to be hired at the 1st National Bank in downtown St. Louis, MO. She moved on to the Bank of St. Louis and later to Boatman’s Bank.

Virginia married her childhood friend and sweetheart, William Alfred Lawrence, Jr., who had recently returned home after fighting in the Vietnam War as a soldier in the United States Army. Shortly thereafter on January 20, 1971, Virginia gave her life to Christ at the age of 23, when she was a member of Elder Herbert Clark’s Full Gospel Missionary Temple in East St. Louis, IL. Virginia was excited about her New Birth, and always thanked her mother and grandmother for planting the seed of righteousness in her and her siblings. Singing in the choir was one of her favorite contributions to the church and God received the Honor and Glory for all things. Attending Bible Study was mandatory as she was always eager to receive the Word of God. The Senior Mothers of the church welcomed her assistance with activities and various events, and she loved the senior citizens and the youth.

After William reenlisted in the military, Virginia became a proud and devoted Army wife and mother to her three sons. They relocated to Fort Hood, TX and then, Nuremburg, Germany where her service to the Lord reached greater heights. She had been called into the ministry in 1973 but had yet to deliver her first sermon. Virginia proudly and emphatically preached for the first time in Illeshiem, Germany in 1979 and continued to deliver sermons until her passing.

 After leaving Germany, Virginia continued to serve the Lord, and enjoy her life with William and her children at duty stations including, Fort Leonard Wood, MO, Forts Davis & Clayton in Panama, Fort Campbell, KY, and finally, Fort Riley, KS.

Upon arriving in Kansas in 1989, Virginia worked in Library Science at the Ft. Riley and Manhattan, KS Libraries before transitioning to a position as an Admissions Supervisor and Chaplain at the Geary Community Hospital, the latter which she held until she passed away. She later moved on to what she thought would be her last position at Manhattan High School where over the course of 13 years, she fell in love with working with high school students so much that  she created a VIP Program to honor Special Education students as well as those who were respectful, mannerable, and courteous. Virginia retired from that position, but quickly discovered that she still had a strong desire to work with students. Consequently, she accepted her last job at Junction City Middle School where she fell in love with a host of new students and LOVED her co-workers.

Virginia’s compassion, love, and respect extended to her church family, especially Pastor Johnson and his wonderful companion, Sister Alice who with open arms welcomed her into their New Church of the Living God. That sanctuary was a second home where she was loved, nurtured, fed, and allowed to continue working on behalf of the Lord. Virginia accomplished many things in her life but she would assure you nothing was more GRATIFYING than living for JESUS. She loved people, never met a stranger, and anyone who knew or spoke with her would tell you that a conversation with her was not complete without a discussion of the Lord.

Traveling with her husband for twenty-four years in the military while raising three children kept the Lawrences busy. My “Three Sons” was the song she sang always. After “JESUS,” Cornell, Respiratory Therapist, Courtney, Tele-Communications Mgr., and Dr. Novotny Lawrence, Professor, were the “Sunshine of her life.” Of course, Billy was “Mr. Everything.” He loved his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and whatever the family needed to be comfortable, PaPa provided.

Virginia was preceded in death by a son during childbirth, Christian Nicholas, her parents, grandparents, one brother, one sister, uncle, & aunt. She leaves to cherish her memory her Stepmother, Vivian Wellmaker, Godparents, Lellwyn and Daisy McTavish, one aunt, Thelma Falconer, sons, Cornell (Tracy), Courtney (Anna), Novotny (Sarah), grandchildren, Rachael (Gregg Henderson), Cheyenne (Emmanuel Cockrell), Jordan, Andrew, Alexis, & Alyson—seeing their faces made her so very HAPPY!!!, great grandchildren, Chase & James (Mother, Tonya Taylor), honorary grandchildren, Karsen, Emerson, & Gracyn Ross, sisters Genetra Wellmaker, Denise (Jerry) Bradley, Ackerman, MS, LaBrillia Wellmaker, St. Louis, MO, Kathy Wellmaker, Los Angeles, CA, brothers, Elder Ricardo (Wanda) Davidson, Weir, MS, Larry (Linda) Wellmaker, Ackerman, MS, Ellsworth (Lisa) Wellmaker, Florissant, MO, Ralph Wellmaker, Granite City, IL, extended family Joyce (Johnny) Hairston, Deborah (Leroy) Washington, Wenifred Nash-Bell, Valarie Nash, Claudia Nash, Kevin Willmott and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives, and friends. Four days after Virginia’s death, her husband, who she affectionately called “Billy,” passed away. Though only a few days, the time apart must have felt like an eternity for the couple whose marriage spanned nearly 52 years.   

In lieu of flowers, we respectfully ask for contributions to the JCHS Minority Alumni Scholarship, C/O Novotny Lawrence, P.O. Box 804, Ames, IA 50010.

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