Deceased September 14, 2017
Gary Lawlor died Sept. 14, 2017, following a long illness. He missed graduating with the class of 1968 because of surgery to repair a congenital lung problem. After Amherst, Gary devoted an incomparable year to travels on a shoestring throughout Europe.
I met him years after that as a philosophy graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. He was friends throughout his life with Emmanuel Aronie ’68, who visited him frequently in Pittsburgh. Gary had a yearning for adventure that he sated with collections of artifacts, colorful stories and voracious reading. He studied African art and surrounded himself with a wonderful array of masks and statues. Gary earned a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Although this led to rewarding positions in the county’s judicial administration, he found more gratifying several guardianships assigned to him to care for disabled individuals.
Gary engaged in creative work of all kinds. He culled his poetry into bound sets for his friends and delighted in themes for short stories, painting and sculpture and assemblages of visual arts too numerous and quirkily wonderful to categorize. One of Gary’s Pittsburgh friends was the late Frank Trapp, the well-remembered professor of arts and humanities at Amherst.
Gary was challenged by a bipolar disorder that upturned his professional and personal affairs over and over. In his last year he struggled with COPD and Alzheimer’s. He was never afraid of his dying, for he knew there was no gift greater he could give than this, and that as he put it, “the world’s best libraries, best books will not prepare us to pass this membrane, to make this transit to slip unnoticed beyond.”
Gary's friends understand, and grieve deeply, that there will be no one in their lives like him again, but they rejoice in how much larger their lives are for having known him.
Edward L. McCord