Walter V. “Bud” Lawrence, 95, of Arkansas City, passed away Saturday, April 4, 2020, at his residence.
He was attended by his daughters, Linda Snyder-Patterson (Steve) of the home, Verna Shook (Steve) of Derby, and Jan Haley (Michael) of Keenesburg, Colo.
A celebration of life is at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 20 at the Camp Quaker Haven Chapel. Rev. Steven Patterson and Rev. Dallas Evans will officiate. Friends and family are invited to a reception directly following the service.
A memorial has been established for Camp Quaker Haven or Barclay College. Contributions can be made through the funeral home. Arrangements are under the direction of Rindt-Erdman Funeral Home and Crematory. Online condolences can be made at www.rindt-erdman.com.
Bud was born the youngest child of Walter S. And Emma D. (Gordy) Lawrence, born on May 30, 1924, on their 15-acre truck farm in Kemah, Galveston County, Texas. A brother, Gordy, and sisters Vivian (George) Miller and Doris (Tom) Good preceded him, as well as an infant brother, Walter Stephen Jr., who died shortly after birth. Esther (Charles) Stutzman, 97, of League City, Texas, is the last surviving sibling. The entire family were charter members of Bayshore Friends Church in Bacliff, Texas.
Bud graduated from Friendswood High School in Friendswood, Texas, in 1941, in the first graduating class. He entered the National Youth Administration School in April 1942 at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he was later hired by the Civil Service. When he was discharged in 1942 he joined the U.S. Army Air Force, stationed at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas. Training included aerial engineer training on B-24 bombers. From there he was sent to aerial gunnery training at Harlingen Air Force Base. Crew training on B-24s began at Davis Monthan Field in Tucson, Ariz., then at Blythe Army Air Base in California. Christmas Day was spent on a troop train to Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma City for aerial mapping training, and on to Topeka Army Air Force Base, where he joined the 10-man crew of Gerald S. Westcott. They departed late February from Florida, where his crew joined the 506th Bomb Squad of the 44th Bomb Group, 2nd Air Division of the 8th Air Force. On their 21st mission over Magdeburg, Germany on June 29, 1944, the Westcott crew was shot down. Bud (nicknamed “Tex”) was one of three survivors. Captured by the Germans, he spent six months in Stalag Luft IV near the Baltic Sea. At that time prisoners were forced to march for 52 days in freezing weather with only the clothes they were wearing, to Fallingbostel, where Bud was hospitalized. He was liberated by an English Armored Division on April 16, 1945, flown to London on April 21 and hospitalized until May 7 in Oxford. He was taken back to London in time to watch the VE Day celebrations on May 8. He left Southampton, England on May 13 on the M.S. John Ericsson, heading to New York City. He arrived in NYC on his 21st birthday and was discharged on Oct. 25, 1945, with the rating of technical sergeant after serving three years and 23 days.
Bud became a first-time published author at the age of 95. He had been writing about his World War II experiences through the years and decided last year (after great encouragement from his family) to enlist the assistance of an editor and publisher. The book was released in October 2019 to rave reviews. The title is “Only By the Grace of God, Surviving World War II.”
Bud attended Friends Bible College in January 1946 in Haviland and graduated in 1948. He met and later married Letha Brooks on Oct. 19, 1947, in Emporia. They raised their three daughters in Arkansas City, where they served as resident managers of Camp Quaker Haven from 1956 to 1986. Bud and his family were charter members of Arkansas City Friends Church and both faithfully served the camp and the church in several capacities. All three daughters graduated from Arkansas City High School and blessed them with seven grandchildren: Randi (Snyder) Shetley, Mandi (Snyder) Rosales, Marki (Snyder) Sulzbach, Marcus Shook and Matthew Shook, Jessica (Haley) Van Meter and Jared Haley. He also has 25 great-grandchildren. A son-in-law, Paul Snyder, preceded in death on Oct. 2, 2000; wife Letha preceded in death on Oct. 26, 2010. Bud remarried on May 26, 2013 to Pauline Fees, who preceded him in death on Aug. 25, 2018.