Women’s History Month
Evelyn Lawrence was a woman of extreme impact and honor within the community. She was born November 13, 1915. She attended the Carnegie High School located in Marion and then went on to attend Gary High School in West Virginia. She received a bachelor’s degree in music and English from West Virginia State College and a master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan. Ms. Lawrence eventually became a teacher at Carnegie High School until 1965 when the school was closed due to desegregation. From there, she became a teacher at Marion Elementary School until 1985. Ms. Lawrence was the first teacher in Smyth County to have a master’s degree. Students to this day give praise to Ms. Lawrence and attest to her wonderful teaching skills. She was filled with grace, love, and compassion for her students. Not only was she an educator, Ms. Lawrence was a community advocate. She served on the Smyth County Community Hospital board of directors as chairperson for the Cultural Relations Committee of the Smyth County branch and was a member of the Blue Ridge Job Corps Community Relations Council. Ms. Lawrence was a faithful member of the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church and served as their choir director, organist, and community leader until they closed. After their closing, she became a member of the Grace and Greenwood United Methodist Church. Her community service was acknowledged by the Rotary Club of Marion when she was awarded Smyth County Citizen of the year in 1984 and was made an honorary member in 2008. In 2008, Delegate Bill Carrico presented a joint resolution adopted by both houses of the General Assembly that honored her hard work and community service. Not only an advocate and educator, Ms. Lawrence was also a local historian. She worked tirelessly to have The Crying Tree in Marion recognized by the community and also had the oak listed in the book of “Remarkable Trees of Virginia”. She worked diligently to convert the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church into a preservation society to honor the African American community in Smyth County. Her dreams became a reality when she received the deed for the church. Lawrence passed away August 28, 2015.
Her life greatly impacted the community of Smyth County. She was a glowing beam of light, a beacon of hope, and emanated strength. Her legacy lives on today at the Mount Pleasant Preservation Society in Marion, which is open to the public by appointment. Her home is also to be converted to a local bed and breakfast. Evelyn Lawrence helped shape Smyth County to make it a better place for all future generations.