John R. Lawson II receives Golden Paw Award from Virginia Living Museum
Sept. 17, 2009
The Virginia Living Museum has given its highest honor, the Golden Paw Award, to John R. Lawson II, president and CEO of W.M. Jordan Company, for outstanding service to the Newport News museum.
Lawson has been involved with the museum since the age of 13 when he helped his father dig the foundation for the observatory in the former museum building, along with members of the Warwick Rotary Club.
“Over the years Johnny has continued to keep the foundation of this institution strong as it has grown, said VLM President Conway Sheild in presenting the award Sept. 17. “Johnny, as he is known, is the consummate good citizen… For all his prominence, he works well behind the scenes, working out solutions, putting people together, and a dynamo with an amazing knack for getting things done, including fundraising.”
Lawson has served on the museum’s Board of Trustees and is currently a member of the Advisory Board. He planned and oversaw construction of the new museum building that opened in 2004 and worked tirelessly to raise money for the building. When plans were being developed for the Wason Amphitheater, Lawson used his construction expertise to pick the perfect site “seeing beyond the original plans to a bigger vision of what it might be.”
Last year when the bank called the museum’s construction notes, Lawson “was instrumental in buying us time with the bondholder to help us work things out, and he continues to participate vigorously to help the VLM clear up their debt,” Sheild said.
In accepting the award, Lawson said that “in examining your life you have to ask, did you leave the community a better place than you found it? Quality of life is important and this place screams it, my children love it.” Lawson said culture defines the character of a community and quality of life is important “not just for people who can afford it, but also for people who can’t afford it.”
Speaking to the museum’s donors and supporters, Lawson said, “we are the leaders who have a responsibility to give back to the community. Newport News is no longer a blue collar town….We owe a lot to the World War II generation who set an example…now we need to teach young people to do the same.”
The award was presented during a dinner Sept. 17 honoring museum supporters. The award is a bronze bobcat statue by Eastern Shore sculptor David Turner.
The museum began giving the Golden Paw Award in 1995 to recognize outstanding service and support of the museum. Past recipients are: Warwick Rotary Club, Junior League of Hampton Roads, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Kelly, Sr. (deceased), George Goodson, Harry Wason, Mary Sherwood Holt, Cynthia Andrews, James B. (Jake) Thomas, Dr. John Q.A. Mattern II, the Abbitt family, Ferguson Enterprises, Inc., the city of Newport News and Charlie and Mari Ann Banks.
The Virginia Living Museum is a private non-profit organization that is both a museum and an education center. It has been in operation since 1966 and is accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Association of Museum. It is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News.
For more information call 757-595-1900 or visit the web site at www.thevlm.org.