Thank You Grady Lawson

I remember going with my Dad to the Shell station in Ramseur when I was only 5 or 6 years old.  Grady Lawson owned the Shell station.  I still remember the receipt books he had on the shelf behind the register.  The receipt books had local townspeople’s name on the spine.  Each book had the total Grady had lent to people to buy gas and other items for the month.

I remember walking in the station and looking for my Dad’s name on one of the small receipt books.  “There it is right there, Mike Burgess,” I would say to Grady while pointing to it.  Grady would tell me how smart I was that I could recognize his name.  Grady would write down the total for the gas we had put in the old blue truck and my Dad would say, “Thank you Grady” as we walked out the door.

Grady helped keep my Dad and several other self-employed people in business.  The full tank of gas meant my Dad would be able to travel to job sites and earn a living.  After Dad was paid for doing the month’s electrical jobs he would pay Grady for the gas.  Thank you Grady.

A few years later I played Little League on Grady’s Ramseur Auto Parts team.  CB Arrington and Happy Spivey were our coaches and Grady took care of us.  One day before our first game Grady brought our uniforms to our practice.  They were white uniforms with a navy blue pinstripe.  To an eight year old boy they might as well been straight from the Yankees.  We had the coolest uniforms.  Thank you Grady.

Often after our games Grady would buy us snow cones from the concession stand.  It did not matter that I had struck out twice and grounded out to the pitcher in the game.  I was not a very good baseball player, but somehow Grady didn’t care.  He was glad I was there and that I enjoyed playing the game.  Thank you Grady.

After Little League, I was not going to play Babe Ruth baseball.  I was 13, and remember I was not that good.  Grady asked me why I was not going to play and told me I should play.  He sponsored the Babe Ruth team also and I played because Grady told me I should.  Somehow I made the 13 year old All-Star team that year.  Thinking back,  I have to assume there  must not have been many 13 years olds in the league and they needed players.  Either way, I made the All-Star team.  Calvin Arrington, who passed away on Saturday, coached the team, and Grady sponsored the team.  Thank your Grady.

When I was in high school Grady was a fixture at Eastern Randolph.  He just took care of what was needed.  He sponsored the American Legion team.  I would like to know how many cheeseburgers he bought student athletes over the years.  He raised money for all the area schools and served on the Randolph County Board of Education.  I am sure we do not really know everything Grady has done for our schools and community, but I know the list is extremely long.  Thank you Grady.

Fifteen years ago I stopped in to see Grady and ask him for advice as I was entering the financial services business.  I asked him who I should contact and for referrals.  Many of the people he told me to talk to are clients today.  Thank you Grady.

In 2012, I sat with Grady at the Lincoln Day Dinner in Asheboro.  We talked about a lot of things, and Grady told me I should run for the School Board.  Thank you Grady.

We lost a great local icon today in Grady Lawson.  He was a shining example of the kind of board member our school system needs.  He supported our local businesses.  He supported thousands of  baseball players, even the below average players like me.  He supported thousands of students whether they were athletes or not.  He supported our schools.  He supported our community.  And he did it with great character and integrity.  Thank you Grady.

I once heard someone say, when we are born we cry and the world rejoices.  We should live our life so that on our death the world cries and we rejoice.   Today we do shed a tear for losing such a wonderful man, but Grady is rejoicing.  How appropriate it is that on the week we take a day off to offer a thanks for what we have, we say Thank You Grady Lawson.


Fred Burgess is a founding member of and a member of the Randolph County Board of Education


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