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Official Obituary of

Lawson Ray Burford, Jr.

October 17, 1942 ~ March 9, 2024 (age 81) 81 Years Old

Lawson Burford Obituary

Lawson Burford Jr. was born October 17, 1942, in St. Louis, Missouri to the family of Lawson and Anna Burford. Lawson was preceded in death by his father, mother and wife of 46 years Dr. Mary Ellen Burford.

Lawson grew up and attended school in Webster Groves Missouri. While a resident of Webster his parents also owned a Sinclair Service Station in the neighborhood. This environment is where his love of all things mechanical truly sprung to life. Although he had a strong interest in photography and boating during this time, he also grew up building and modifying his own cars. This enthusiasm also led to some drag racing in his younger years.

After high school, Lawson married the love of his life Mary Ellen Johnson. She was the backbone of the household and kept him and Todd inline. While running the household along with maintaining her demanding career Mary Ellen also achieved educational excellence by earning her PHD which Lawson fully supported by eating Steak n Shake when Mary couldn’t or wouldn’t cook. A triple cheese and chilly were staples in the Burford household, brought home in a cooler to keep them hot until he had his movie queued up on the television. Probably something Sy Fy.

Lawson served as a Navy Corpsman for the Marines during the Vietnam War. During his time in Vietnam while out on patrol his unit came under attack after a parachute flare was fired which exposed both U.S. and Vietcong solders. Lawson was shot several times in his legs. He was pulled out of harms way by one of his fellow soldiers who was shot and killed in the process but had managed to pull Lawson back into tall grass far enough away where the Vietcong could not find him even though they were standing almost directly over him. He was later medevacked out and taken to hospital where he went through a year of recovery and rehab. During this time, Lawson received a purple heart and was honorably discharged.

After the war and on the advice of a friend (FBI agent Joseph Whitlock), Lawson attended and graduated from the St. Louis County Police Academy. After graduating he became a police officer with the Webster Groves Police and Fire Department. Lawson started as a patrolman and received several promotions which lead to him making detective. During this time Webster Groves school district became the first local area district to have school liaisons between the police department and the schools. Lawson worked on programs designed to deescalate volatile environments in these schools. Lawson was the juvenile detective selected to work with the court social worker and the school counselors on such issues that would involve young children and ways to help troubled youth find their way and graduate. He went on to serve and protect Webster Groves rising to the rank of Lieutenant before retiring after 33 years of service to the community.

Growing up under the roof of his father led to one of the most fascinating and adventurous lifestyles one could imagine. A life of boating. Lawson’s father built their first boat in their garage. Lawson senior went on to own several other boats, which planted the seed in his son. Lawson junior was fascinated by water and anything in or on it. His love of boats and nature was a blessing not only to his family, but to any and all that were in the same harbor. His boating knowledge and wisdom were unmatched. People from harbors throughout the St. Louis boating community would always seek his advice. Whenever they encountered any kind of problem or unknown they could always turn to Lawson for a solution. It was a gift, one of many, he shared with anyone that cared to ask.

Lawson Burford departed this life on March 9, 2024.

He leaves behind his son Todd, cousin’s Roy Cables, Lois Jackson, Carlene Cables, Jessica Brown, Sandy Powell, the sister in-laws Jackie, Arletha, Shirley, Precious, Ruby, and their children, his best friend and First Mate Jackie Creighton along with her lovely children and grandchildren, the Harbor Point boating community and beyond.
His love of people, nature, beauty and machines stayed with him until his last breath.

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March 20, 2024

4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Austin A. Layne Mortuary, Inc.
7239 West Florissant Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63136

Celebration of Life
March 21, 2024

10:00 AM
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
4431 Lindell Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63108

March 21, 2024

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
2900 Sheridan Road
St. Louis, MO 63125

March 23, 2024

2:00 PM
Harbor Point Yacht Club
280 Jamie Circle
West Alton, MO 63386


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