I don't know how any of you feel about mainstreaming children with mental handicaps but I have a story that might change your mind if you oppose it.
My friend, Bruce Lawson, passed away yesterday. Bruce made deliveries for the local pharmacy. When he didn't show up for work yesterday morning, someone was sent to check on him and they found him. That is all I know right now. I have no more details nor explanations as to the cause of death. But what I do know about is Bruce's life. He was so special but special not because of his handicaps but because of his abilities and his heart. I went to school with Bruce. He was two years ahead of me in my husband, Steve's, class. He was the kindest and sweetest person I have ever known. And unlike nearly everyone else I knew from way back then, Bruce never changed. He was always so obviously happy to see us whenever we'd run into him at the grocery, on the street, at baseball games. It's been years since Knoxville had a baseball team but when they did, we'd always see Bruce there and he'd sit with us even though he had box seats and we were usually in the cheap seats, lol. He never missed any game, any sport he was on the sidelines cheering on the team. He was often in the press box and he'd lend very knowledgeable commentary. Despite his disabilities Bruce had an amazing memory especially where sports and sport stats and scores were concerned. It was truly remarkable. He also remembered our high school days like they were yesterday and would remind me of times and incidents that had long ago grown foggy for me. Bruce went to school with us from grade school on. He was always passed so that he could stay with the kids his own age. In those days, there were no special and separate classes. Every day Bruce was in the classroom side by side with his classmates. And when it came to sports, although he lacked the coordination to play (and so did I:), he was obsessed with any and all Loudon Redskin sports. He always participated either on the sidelines cheering on the players or behind the scenes. Bruce wasn't able to go to college like his brothers but he did grow up to be a functional and contributing member of our community. Maybe this was possible because this is such a small town or maybe Bruce, with his incredibly large heart and spirit, was the exception to the rule but I know that I speak for all of those that grew up with Bruce when I say, he gave much more to our lives and education than he ever took.
Goodbye my dear, sweet friend. You will be forever missed!
I wanted to share Bruce's obituary because it shows just how accomplished and loved he was:Bruce Carlton Lawson
LAWSON, BRUCE CARLTON - age 55, of Loudon, passed away Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at his home. He was a member of the Loudon Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He had served as a delivery person for the News-Herald and was a courier for BankFirst/BB&T, and most recently RxPerts Pharmacy. Bruce was a boy scout and a proud graduate of Loudon High School class of 1972, and was voted Best School Spirit by his classmates. In 1972, LHS Principal Wm. S. Napier and Superintendent A.C. Dukes, Sr. presented him with a trophy for being Loudon's Most Loyal Fan. He attended Hiwassee College. Bruce was an LHS icon, attending all sporting events, rarely missing an LHS game. He served as scorekeeper and statistician for many years and was LHS's number one cheerleader and fan and will be sorely missed by the entire community. He also loved the New York Yankees, served on a TSSAA committee for classifications of schools, and was presented a plaque by Lou Holtz inducting him into The National Football Foundation's Hall of Fame. He was preceded in death by his parents, Helen (Cook) and R. A. (Bill) Lawson, Jr. He is survived by brothers and sisters-in-law; nieces and nephews; and generations of LHS athletes, faculty members, and friends. Graveside service 10:30 AM Saturday, March 7, Loudon County Memorial Gardens. A memorial service will follow at 1:00 PM, Saturday, Loudon High School gymnasium.