Howard C. Lawrence, Jr., M.D.
1916 - 2014
Dr. Howard C. Lawrence, Jr., beloved family patriarch and prominent Phoenix physician and surgeon, passed away on May 24th at the age of 98. He was born in Lake Odessa, Michigan, to Howard C. and Clara Luther Lawrence on February 13, 1916. He was predeceased by his wife, Winifred (Hertnagel), and second wife, Sue (McDonald); his four brothers: Luther E. Lawrence, Dr. Paul R. Lawrence, Dr. Gordon D. Lawrence and Walter A. Lawrence. Howard is survived by his daughters: Patricia Ellis (John) of Sacramento, CA, Jan Routledge of Lantzville, BC, Canada, Debbie Lawrence of Scottsdale, AZ., six grandchildren, six great grandchildren, his sister Margaret Jack of Grand Rapids, MI, numerous nieces and nephews and countless friends and colleagues.
In 1949, after graduating from the University of Michigan undergraduate and medical schools and completing eight years of additional surgical training in Michigan and Ohio, Howard moved to Phoenix. He was the first board certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in the Southwest. For 35 years in private practice, thousands of patients' lives were saved, enhanced and improved. Much of his services were freely given to those unable to afford care. Howard trained and mentored many physicians. A book written by one of his students, Dr. Gregory Hetter, contained this dedication: "He was first in the hearts of his students because what others made complex he made simple, what others made difficult he made easy, and, above all, because he was not only one of the most gifted of plastic surgeons but, most unusually, also the finest of men."
Howard was a member of the AZ AMA and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, co-founder and 1st president of the Maricopa County Society of Plastic Surgeons, and founding member of the CA Society of Plastic Surgeons. He was Chief of Staff at St. Joseph's Hospital (1958), Good Samaritan Hospital (1964-66) and the AZ Children's Hospital (1973).
He embraced life with a positive vision and had many passions in addition to medicine. Howard was a life long musician who played many instruments, piano and keyboard being his favorites. This joy continued into retirement where he volunteered his music by visiting senior centers with his keyboard, playing from a list of 70 songs by memory. As an avid swimmer for over 60 years, he began the day in the pool. Also, Howard was a sportsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing, scuba diving, horseback riding and a sports fan who found great delight in following his favorite Arizona and Michigan teams. He traveled extensively. Howard had countless stories and jokes which he delivered with superb timing and expression, enriching our lives with laughter.
He was admired and loved by family, colleagues, and friends. His long life was filled with accomplishment and we honor and applaud his character and his achievements.