Walter E. Lawrence

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Walter E. Lawrence
Haverhill, Massachusetts City Manager
In office
Preceded by James Ginty (Acting)
Succeeded by James Ginty (Acting)
Provincetown, Massachusetts Town Manager
In office
Preceded by John C. Snow (Acting)
Succeeded by Robert Hancock
Saugus, Massachusetts Town Manager
In office
Preceded by Norman G. Young
Delmont Goding (Temporary)
Succeeded by Charles C. DeFronzo (Temporary)
Daniel E. McLean
Mayor of Medford, Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by John C. Carr
George L. Callahan (acting)
Succeeded by Frederick T. McDermott
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 26th Middlesex District
In office
Personal details
Born (1905-12-08)December 8, 1905
Somerville, Massachusetts
Died April 9, 1967(1967-04-09) (aged 61)
Bremen, Maine
Political party Republican
Occupation Contractor
City Administrator

Walter Edward Lawrence (December 8, 1905 Somerville, Massachusetts – April 9, 1967 Haverhill, Massachusetts[1]) was an American politician and city manager who served as a member of Massachusetts House of Representatives and as Mayor of Medford.

Early life[edit]

Lawrence was born on December 8, 1905 to George Bertram Lawrence and Della (Chievney) Lawrence.[1]

Lawrence attended Medford Public Schools, Northeastern Preparatory School, the Lowell Institute, and Tufts College Engineering School. He worked as a civil engineer prior to entering politics.[2]

On June 19, 1930 he married Helen Jones.[1]

Early political career[edit]

From 1934 to 1939, Lawrence was a member of the Medford Board of Aldermen.[2] He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1939 to 1944.

In 1941, Lawrence was a candidate for Mayor of Medford. He narrowly defeated Leland C. Bickford in the Republican primary,[3] but lost in the general election to incumbent John C. Carr 11,500 votes to 11,039.[4]

Mayor of Medford[edit]

Lawrence ran again in 1943. This time he was successful, defeating fellow Representative Michael F. Skerry.[5]

During his time as mayor, Lawrence had to deal with shortages from wartime rationing. Because of a shortage of paper, Lawrence requested that citizens separate paper from their other garbage. Any barrels with salvageable paper were not collected by the city.[6]

Also during Lawrence's tenure, the City of Medford attempted to control juvenile delinquency by establishing a Youth Commission, creating three new playgrounds, constructing a public swimming pool, and sponsoring activities for boys.[7]

Medford was chosen to host the first day of Massachusetts’ week-long celebration of the United States' victory over Japan.[8] As a tribute to the veterans who died in the war, Lawrence oversaw the construction of Memorial Stadium[9] and a memorial tablet in Barry Park.[10]

In 1945, the Board of Aldermen chose not to give the job of Fire Chief to Acting Chief John Plante, as he ranked below two World War I veterans on the civil service list. Instead of giving the job to one of the other two men, Lawrence used a clause in the city charter to appoint himself to the position and name Plante as his assistant. This allowed Plante to remain as acting chief. In 1948, the civil service list was reissued and Plante once again fell behind John J. E. Gorham, whom Lawrence named chief on February 10, 1948.[11][12]

In 1948, Lawrence challenged Angier Goodwin for the Republican nomination for Goodwin's seat in the United States House of Representatives. He lost to the incumbent 12,709 votes to 10,579.[13]

In 1949, Medford switched to a Plan E form of Government, which meant that the Mayor would no longer be popularly elected, but instead chosen by the City Council. On December 1, 1949, Alderman Frederick T. McDermott was chosen by the Board to become the city's first Mayor under the new form of government, ending Lawrence's tenure as Mayor.[14]

In 1950, Lawrence ran for Sheriff of Middlesex County. He finished second out of seven candidates in the Republican primary.[15]

In 1951, Lawrence was elected to Medford's first City Council.[16]

Town Manager[edit]

On May 2, 1952, Lawrence was named Town Manager of Saugus, Massachusetts.[17]

In 1953 he sold the land opposite Saugus High School to developers for the construction of the New England Shopping Center (which was later redeveloped into the Square One Mall).[18]

On January 31, 1956, the Board of Selectmen passed a preliminary resolution to hold a vote to remove Lawrence from office on March 3, 1956, as they no longer had confidence in him as town manager, they had been informed that he no longer wanted to serve as town manager, and the interests of the town would be best served by removing him from office. On February 3, 1956, Lawrence filed an injunction in Essex Superior Court that would prevent the Selectmen from removing him from office and prevent Charles C. DeFronzo from becoming temporary manager. Lawrence claimed that the Selectmen did not follow the proper procedure for removing him because they did not "detail the specific reasons for his proposed removal". The case was dismissed and a year later the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the lower court's decision.[19]

In 1960, Lawrence was appointed Town Manager of Provincetown, Massachusetts.[20] That August he made a request to the state government to provide financial aid to help fight the infiltration of Beatniks into the town.[21]

On July 15, 1964, Lawrence left his post in Provincetown to become city manager of Haverhill, Massachusetts. During his time in Haverhill, Lawrence clashed with the school committee over the school department's budget,[22][23] fought against excess sick leave by city employees,[24] and allowed Amesbury High School to hold classes in the former Haverhill High School building while Amesbury's building was under construction.[25]

In March 1967, Lawrence was hospitalized and Public Works Commissioner James Ginty was named acting manager. On April 9, 1967, Lawrence died following a long illness.[26]


  1. ^ a b c "Lawrence, Walter Edward (1905-1967)". The Political Graveyard. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b 1943-1944 Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 
  3. ^ "Lawrence Has 22 Margin In Medford Primary Vote". Boston Daily Globe. October 8, 1941. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  4. ^ "6 Greater Bost on Mayors Win; Mrs. Burke Victor". Boston Daily Globe. November 5, 1941. 
  5. ^ "Lawrence Wins by Small Margin". Boston Daily Globe. November 3, 1943. 
  6. ^ "Medford Issues Salvage Edict". Boston Daily Globe. April 2, 1944. 
  7. ^ "Medford Halts Rise in Youth Delinquency". The Christian Science Monitor. October 12, 1945. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "Victory Celebration of One Week Opens Tonight in Medford". Boston Daily Globe. August 27, 1945. 
  9. ^ "Medford Gets Land for Memorial Stadium". Boston Daily Globe. October 26, 1945. 
  10. ^ "Medford Honors 39 Dead in War With Memorials". Boston Daily Globe. November 11, 1946. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  11. ^ "Medford Mayor Names Himself as Fire Chief". Boston Daily Globe. April 9, 1945. 
  12. ^ "Gorham Made Medford Fire Chief at Last". Boston Daily Globe. February 11, 1948. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  13. ^ Election Statistics; The Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1948. 
  14. ^ "McDermott Named Mayor-Designate Under Medford's New Plan E Setup". Boston Daily Globe. December 2, 1949. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Election Statistics; The Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1950. 
  16. ^ "Medford". Boston Daily Globe. November 10, 1951. 
  17. ^ "Saugus Manager to Be W. E. Lawrence, Medford Councilor". Boston Daily Globe. May 3, 1952. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  18. ^ "Saugus Sells Tract For Shopping Center Around New England". Christian Science Monitor. December 28, 1953. 
  19. ^ "WALTER E. LAWRENCE vs. SELECTMEN OF SAUGUS & another.". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  20. ^ "The American City". 75. August 1960. 
  21. ^ "Provincetown Asks State Aid On Beatniks". Boston Globe. August 23, 1960. 
  22. ^ Horsch, Ray (August 21, 1966). "Haverhill Taxpayers Hit School". Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  23. ^ Horsch, Ray (August 15, 1965). "Haverhill School Bd. Budget Hit". Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  24. ^ Horsch, Ray (January 17, 1965). "Sick Leave Excesses in Haverhill?". Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  25. ^ Horsch, Ray (May 16, 1965). "Amesbury High To Continue at Haverhill High". Boston Globe. 
  26. ^ "W. E. Lawrence, at 61; Haverhill City Manager". Boston Globe. April 10, 1967. Retrieved 17 July 2011.