April 9, 1921 – August 3, 2013
Lois Ruth Harmon Lawson, 92, was born on April 9, 1921, in Ironton, Ohio, to Mildred (Wiseman) Harmon and Asa Owen Harmon. She passed away August 3, 2013, at Kavanagh House, Des Moines, Iowa, of the consequences of a heart attack.
Lois married George Thomas Lawson, Jr., November 2, 1946. (“I never met anyone who enjoyed life more,” Lois said of her husband of 45 years and treasured friend since childhood –she helped him with his Latin homework). Lois and George’s family includes Judy (Ken) Keller, Des Moines; George (Karen) Lawson, Ames; and Larry (Deb) Lawson, Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Her seven grandchildren are Sarah (Kevin) Cartwright, Des Moines; Katy Lawson, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Denis Lawson, Denver, Colorado; Joanna Lawson, Beverly, Massachusetts; Maria (Joey) Retucci, Washington, D.C.; Nick Roughton, Iowa City; and Geoff Roughton, Overland Park, Kansas.
Lois is survived by her children and grandchildren and two sisters, Patty Arrington, Ironton, Ohio; and Norma Markwell, Modesto, California and many loving nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband George Lawson; her first husband, Cornelius Cleary (killed in World War II); a sister, Ellen Harmon Chapman and a brother, Asa Owen Harmon.
Lois’s full creative life included early enjoyment of and skill as a singer (with her sisters, she performed in her hometown area as “The Charmin’ Harmons”) and artist (she loved to draw and as a teenager filled scrapbooks with her sketches). To her role as full-time mom, Lois added her personal creative passions: gardening (daylilies and iris and African violets topped the list); china painting; needlework; golf and collecting. Her scherenschnitte black and white pictures and large trivet collection (covering the kitchen walls) were an enduring source of joy to her (“I never get tired of looking at trivets!”) and anyone who visited her home will likely recall the George Washington bathroom.
After George was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1981, Lois cared for him at home for six years and then for the next 4 years while he lived at Luther Park. She learned all she could about the mysterious, then “new” disease, and eventually became an advocate for caregivers, serving as president of the Des Moines chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association in the early 1990s. The talks she gave to central Iowa groups about Alzheimer’s and caregiving provided many with their first personalized information about this tragic ailment and the role caregivers play in it.
Lois’s love of life and willingness to accept change and make the most of whatever came her way continued as she moved from her home of 49 years to Valley View Village Assisted Living earlier this year. She liked her new apartment (complete with lots of her trivets and collectibles) and she looked forward to sitting on the porch each day, talking to other residents and enjoying nature.
We will miss her strong, courageous, active and loving spirit. But we know that she has gone on to other adventures and more happiness. Bon voyage, Mom!
Our family would like to thank everyone – neighbors, friends, relatives and professionals – who helped Mom and us through the years. Special caregiving and medical help thanks go to her family doctor, G. Eric Hockett, M.D.; Iowa Methodist Medical Center; the staff at Valley View Village Assisted Living; and the team at Kavanagh House. All provided the most skilled and loving care to Mom and comfort to us.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, August 8, 2013, at Iles Funeral Homes -Westover Chapel. Burial will follow at Glendale Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 5-7:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 7 at the funeral home. Memorials may be directed to Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Iowa Chapter, 1730 – 28th Street, West Des Moines, IA 50266.
Arrangements by Iles Funeral Homes – Westover ChapelInformation provided by: Iles Funeral Homes Westover Chapel 6337 Hickman Road Des Moines, IA 50322 www.ilesfuneralhomes.com