by Len Lear
Dr. Linwood Theodore (“Ted”) Lawrence, Jr., a Mt. Airy native, World War II hero, medical textbook author and beloved cardiologist, was able to overcome countless obstacles over almost a century, but he succumbed to the coronavirus May 5 at the Quadrangle Retirement Home in Haverford.
Lawrence's parents moved in 1920 to 210 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave. and remained there for 47 years whereupon his father, a biology teacher at Olney High School, died, and his mother, an English teacher, moved to the Cliveden Apartments in East Mt. Airy. The family regularly attended services at the Second Baptist Church of Germantown.
“My dad grew up during the Great Depression,” said son William Lawrence, CEO of SEI Investments, who earned an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania, in a phone interview last week. “His parents would not let him play sports. They wanted him to focus on his studies, but dad had five sons, and we all played sports. In fact, he coached us in the Little League, and he thought that having us on the ball field would keep us out of trouble. He regularly attended the sporting events of his grandchildren.”
Dr. Lawrence was the oldest of three sons of Linwood and Martha Hughes Lawrence. He graduated from Germantown High School in 1938 and was the class Valedictorian. He graduated from Haverford College with a B.S. degree in 1942 and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Upon his graduation, he joined the U. S. Navy and was sent to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. for officers' training, where he became a “90 Day Wonder.”
He was as an Engineering Officer aboard two destroyers, the USS Amman and the USS Anthony, while serving in the Pacific theater. He fought in the battle of Leyte Gulf, supported multiple marine landings, was hit by a kamikaze plane and was stationed in Tokyo Bay until his deactivation in 1946. He served in the Naval Reserves as a Medical Officer until he retired as a Commander in 1968.
After his discharge from the Navy, he attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. It was while he was a resident at Bryn Mawr Hospital that he met a young nurse and the love of his life, Mary Tarquinio, to whom he would be married for 68 years. After marrying in 1951 and having their first son, Steve, Ted and Mary moved to Long Beach, California, where their other four sons were born. Choosing to serve his fellow veterans, he worked at the Long Beach Veterans Hospital until 1963, when he transferred to the Wilmington Veterans Hospital. In 1967 he transferred to the Philadelphia Veterans Hospital as chief of cardiology. In this capacity he pioneered cardiac catheterization procedures and taught at the Medical College of Pennsylvania.
“When my dad worked at the VA Hospital, it was affiliated with the Medical College of Pennsylvania in East Falls, and that gave him an entree into academic medicine,” said William. “He used to do cardiac experiments on cats, and he would take us down to see them. My youngest brother, Tom, followed in dad's footsteps and became a geriatrician at Bryn Mawr Hospital.”
After a brief retirement in 1980, Dr. Lawrence returned as a cardiac consultant at the Haverford State Hospital until 1995. He co-authored several medical text books, was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of Mensa and was selected to the Legion of Honor. He was also a meticulous gardener whose produce furnished many highly delectable salads.
“A special place for dad was the rustic family camp on Lower Goose Island, Casco Bay, Maine,” said William. “He spent his summers growing up working with his two brothers in the marine biology lab run by their father, which helped him develop a life-long love of the outdoors and the sea. He later vacationed there with his family, and the precious time spent there with all of us was a highlight for many years.”
Dr. Lawrence is survived by his sons Roy, Geoff, Bill and Dr. Tom Lawrence, his 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service is planned when it is allowed at the Lower Merion Baptist Church.
Len Lear can be reached at email@example.com