Museum of Northwest Colorado: ‘Everyone knows I turn there’ | CraigDailyPress.com

Museum of Northwest Colorado: ‘Everyone knows I turn there’

Mary Pat Dunn, Museum of Northwest Colorado Registrar

“Major” Gerald Sprague Lawrence smiles with his characteristic upbeat geniality in this portrait photo taken around 1965. A well-known figure around town, the Major made many lasting contributions to his chosen community throughout his life here.

"Major" Gerald Sprague Lawrence smiles with his characteristic upbeat geniality in this portrait photo taken around 1965. A well-known figure around town, the Major made many lasting contributions to his chosen community throughout his life here.

Small towns sometimes present challenges to daily life that are not experienced in large urban areas. The upside of life in a rural area, however, far outweighs any perceived drawbacks. One delightful aspect of small-town living is the ability to grow as an individual and become a vital part of a close-knit community.

Gerald S. Lawrence lived in Craig for almost 50 years before his death in 1967, and he was an excellent example of a unique personality operating with zest and devotion in his chosen community. With his wife Margaret, who taught school here for 42 years, Gerald raised his two children and built a life for his family while he worked at the Colorado Highway Department. The "Major" as he was known, was devoted to his town and served in several service organizations. A glance back through the archives at the Museum of Northwest Colorado shows his name on almost all of the worthy endeavors undertaken by Craig's citizens. From clubs and rodeos to school activities and parades, the Major could be found supporting countless civic causes around town.

He was a great example of a larger-than-life character who was revered by the townspeople, and whose idiosyncrasies and personal foibles were tolerated and even smiled upon, because of how he endeared himself to everyone. He was known for delighting his friends with detailed stories of the past, which were enabled by his great memory and his enjoyment of life in general. His enthusiasm was contagious and was reflected in his rag-time style piano playing. He had formerly played for the silent movies, and he shared his expansive musical gift with the community in various places and events.

But as larger-than-life characters often are, he was also aware of his status in the community. Dan Davidson recalled hearing of one incident when the Major was driving on Yampa Avenue and failed to signal properly when making a turn. The result was an accident, but the Major was indignant when challenged with a ticket. "Everyone knows I always turn there!" was his defense, which reflected his belief that he was a well-known figure around town.

Today we might not recognize as readily that each of us is making a lasting impression upon our community. Our personality, our traits and our actions are all small pebbles thrown into the little pond that is known as Craig. Those small pebbles have lasting ripple effects that continue to shape the character of our community and add to the delights of living in this rural town. Thanks, Major, for reminding us that as we live life with zest and commitment we make a positive impact on all around us.