Mrs. Audrey Hoffman Lawson, longtime church, civic leader and devoted wife of Rev. William Lawson, died at home of natural causes this past Saturday, December 12. She was 83.
Mrs. Lawson was born in St. Louis on March 20, 1932. She was raised in St. Louis until she graduated high school and matriculated to Tennessee State University.
Audrey and Rev. Lawson married on January 30, 1954, and eventually moved to Houston. The couple founded Wheeler Avenue Baptist in their home in 1962, and they remained at the helm of that church until Rev. Lawson retired from his role as senior pastor in 2004. They were married for over 61 years.
The Wheeler Avenue Church family issued a statement concerning her passing:
“Family, it is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our Founding First Lady, Mrs. Audrey Hoffman Lawson. We ask that you please keep Pastor Lawson and the entire family in your prayers as we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Mrs. Audrey Hoffman Lawson. To God Be The Glory!”
While most individuals knew her as the wife of Rev. William Lawson, she made countless other contributions to the city of Houston that has cemented her legacy as a major civic leader.
Being a social worker by profession made it seamless for Mrs. Lawson to translate those skills and her love for people into the work that she did and the legacy she leaves as such a giving and caring civic servant to the citizens of Houston.
She helped conceive two charter schools, including the WALIPP-TSU Preparatory, which was established to meet the critical academic and social development needs of inner-city youth.
Since opening its doors in the fall of 2002, WALIPP has attended to middle school males enrolled in grades 6 through 8, providing them an authentic, enriched learning community.
Early on in its development, WALIPP purposefully implemented a single-gender strategy for education. Located on the Texas Southern University campus and warmly embraced by non-profit, for-profit, fraternal and community organizations, the model has demonstrated a positive impact on the students and families it has served. In 2011, the academy expanded its model to include a girls’ program. Female middle-school students had an opportunity to benefit from an equally rigorous academic experience as well as build meaningful relationships and reinforce invaluable character traits that continue to make the WALIPP-TSU program so successful.
In 2015 the academy was renamed Lawson Academy after Mrs. Lawson.
Mrs. Lawson also instrumental in taking The Ensemble Theater to the next level after its founder George Hawkins solicited help while he was on his deathbed. Many credit her with helping to find the money to rebuild the former auto repair shop, that now houses The Ensemble Theater, and turning it into one of the most successful Black-owned theater companies in the country.
Mrs. Audrey Lawson leaves behind a rich legacy and is survived by her husband, Rev. William Lawson, and the couple’s four children, Melanie Lawson, Cheryl Lawson, Eric Lawson and Roxanne Lawson; son-in-laws John Guess and Thomas Carter; grandchildren Robyn Troup and Raven Troup; and grandson-in-law Alex Koby.
There will be a visitation from 9am to 11am on Friday, December 18, 2015 at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church 3826 Wheeler Ave. Houston, TX 77004. The funeral services will begin at 11am following the visitation at the Church. The interment will be private.