Retired Jefferson County Chancery and Probate Judge, and later Chancellor at Large, Lawrence E. Dawson of Pine Bluff died Nov. 12 at Trinity Village Medical Center. He was 94.
“I practiced in his court for probably 18 years before he became a chancellor,” Pine Bluff Attorney Eugene Hunt said. “He was a man of immense dignity. He was a student of the law and his courtroom was the model of decorum.”
Dawson first ran for municipal judge in 1954, and four years later sought a seat as a chancery and probate judge. That position is now known as circuit judge. He was defeated, but his opponent died, and attorneys in Pine Bluff unanimously endorsed Dawson to be appointed to fill out the term.
After that term, he had no opposition, and after an unsuccessful bid for the State Supreme Court, he continued as probate and chancery judge. He continued in that position until 1992, when he was honored for his years of service and named as a chancellor at large, trying cases all over the state.
“He had a judicial temperament that was admirable,” Hunt said. “He loved life and he loved the State of Arkansas, and he treated those behind him with dignity and respect.”
After graduating from law school, Dawson moved to Pine Bluff, where he practiced law for 10 years and taught business law at the Modern School of Business at Pine Bluff; he later taught an extension course in business law at Arkansas A&M College (now the University of Arkansas at Monticello).
In addition to his work as a judge, Dawson was also a writer, producing the book “50 Years as a Judge and Counting” that chronicled his career. He was a member of the Jefferson County and Arkansas Bar Associations, a Fellow of the Arkansas Bar Association, the American Judiciature Society, President of the Judicial Council a Mason and a Shriner.
Visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Ralph Robinson and Son Funeral Directors. Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church, with burial in Graceland Cemetery.