The Reverend Dr. Alex Lawson, husband of Joy Lawson, passed away peacefully at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, BC, surrounded by his family, on April 30, 2019, at the age of 93.
This vibrant Scotsman, who immigrated to Canada in 1950 to begin what became an incredible legacy of love and healing through poetic intellect, is survived by his wife Joy; his children Alexander “Sandy” (Jan), David (Chriss), Heather (Garth), Sheena, Peter and Marla; and his grandchildren Alexander, Mitch, Drew, Emily, Joshua, Iain, Keagan, Hannah, Sarah and Cameron; as well as two foster children, Doreen and Zachery. His two step-grandsons, Harley and Rowan shared in his unending love. He was predeceased by an infant son, Ian.
Alex was born in Addiewell, Scotland on February 27, 1926. A lover of music, he learned the highland pipes as a young lad and after working as a blacksmith’s apprentice, went to work in the Westwood shale oil works at in 1941 at age seventeen. He made his way to “the pits” and worked as a coal miner before eventually answering an advertisement seeking highland pipers for Ogilvie’s Department store in Montreal, Canada. Alex arrived in Halifax at Pier 51 where he began a life-long love affair with Canada, his newly adopted country. He began his employment at Ogilvie’s as one of their official pipers who piped open and close the store each day. Alex soon became an icon featured weekly in the department store’s advertising. During the day he worked as an electrician in the Montreal landmark where he met Joy, the love of his life, who worked at the handkerchief counter with a conveniently “faulty” light plug.
Alex joined the Air Force reserve and after a stint with the Black Watch, spend 10 years with the 401 Squadron pipe band working his way quickly to band leader. The band performed at Highland Games throughout the eastern seaboard winning accolades and awards. After his engagement to Joy, Alex began working for Bell Telephone as an installer when he heard God’s call. After their marriage at St. Mark’s United Church in Montreal on June 12, 1954, Alex entered the ministry attending Sir George Williams College then onto McGill University, where he graduated in 1963 with a Bachelor of Divinity. During this time Joy and Alex had Sandy then moved to Laval Ouest where David was born. The young family moved to Arundel, QC, in the Laurentian Mountains, where Alex was a student minister and Heather joined her two brothers.
Alex’s first charge after Ordination into the United Church of Canada in 1963 was in Maryfield, SK where he began a prairie ministry that would last into the next millennium. It was here Sheena was born, and wee Ian blessed the family for a brief time. The family moved to Whitewood, SK in 1966. Peter and Marla became members of the family, as well as foster children Zachery and Doreen.
Alex secured his first major charge at Minto United Church in Moose Jaw, SK in 1971 where he discovered his skills as a therapist and flourished as a man that would influence and change numerous lives through his application of Transactional Analysis, Senoi dream theory, gestalt therapy and his innate ability to allow people to discover healing within themselves by revisiting limiting decisions they had made at some prior point in their lives.
One of his greatest achievements was to create a lay ministry that didn’t rely on professionals to care for others, but to train members of the community to share their compassionate abilities. He founded the Minto Family Life Centre that thrived during his tenure and long after. His work in Family Life Education became the subject of a National Film Board documentary.
Alex brought that experience to McKillop United Church in Lethbridge, AB in 1978 where he was instrumental in creating a community of love and healing until his retirement. An odd word for Alex as he then went on to serve as interim minister at St. David’s United Church in Calgary and was seasonal minister at one of his favorite spots, Waterton United Church, where he was conferred the honor of Minister Emeritus in 2015.
In 1990, Alex was bestowed an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton, AB, an honor he cherished.
Throughout his ministry and well into the next millennium, Alex, frequently with Joy, led tours to what he called the two Holy lands, Scotland and the Middle East, often with people he would hold close the rest of his life. They also toured the Far East and Russia.
Alex and Joy moved to Victoria in 2012 and enjoyed Island living. Following a fall on ice during a winter visit to Alberta, Alex made great use of an electric scooter to make his daily runs around Victoria and continued to guest minister, baptize and officiate weddings up until the summer of 2018 at the age of 92.
Some of Alex’s notable positions held were as Senator, University of Lethbridge; President, United Church of Canada Qu’Appelle Presbytery; President, United Church of Canada Southern Alberta Presbytery; Consultant to Congregations, United Church of Canada; President, Family Life Saskatchewan; Member of the Board, Canadian Association of Transactional Analysis, Author, “To Light a Penny Candle” a book of his sermons.
A Celebration of Alex’s Life will be held at 2:00pm, on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at MARTIN BROTHERS RIVERVIEW CHAPEL, 610 4 Street South, Lethbridge, Alberta. For those unable to attend, live-streaming of the service will be available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsMN7N35TsQ
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00pm, on Saturday, May 11, at CENTENNIAL UNITED CHURCH, 612 David Street, Victoria, British Columbia.
Flowers are gratefully declined. For those who wish, the family suggests that donations be made to INCLUSION LETHBRIDGE, 527 – 6th Street S., T1J 2E1; (403) 327-2911; firstname.lastname@example.org.
527 – 6th Street South, Lethbridge AB T1J 2E1