William Eugene “Gene” Lawler, 94, passed away at home on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, surrounded by his loving family. He was born at the family farm on Nov. 7, 1926, in Ridgway, Illinois, the son of Augustus and Teresa Drone Lawler.
Shortly after leaving school at 14, his father passed away and he was left to provide for his mother and seven sisters. He often hired out and out of necessity, rigged his own tractor with headlights so he could work later. He loved playing in a country band for barn dances and other events.
He was drafted by the U.S. Army in February 1945, during World War II. He escorted troop trains across the country until receiving orders to the SCU 3990 POW Detachment Camp in Ogden, Utah, where he became an MP. He guarded the camp and prisoners, provided escort for POW work details to local fields and orchards, and then served as acting Provost Marshall. At the closure of the camp he was the last man out, locking the gate for the final time. He also served in the Wyoming State National Guard.
It was there at the POW camp that Gene met the love of his life, Allie Lee Taylor. They were married three months later on Jan. 18, 1946, in Salt Lake City, Utah. After his discharge from the Army, they lived in Ridgway, in Evanston, Wyoming and finally settled in Ogden, Utah. They celebrated 71 years together before Allie passed away on Sept. 13, 2017.
Gene worked as a mechanic in Evanston, Wyoming, then returned to Ogden to work at the Utah General Depot, the very place he had been a prison guard. He earned his mechanic’s certification from Weber State College and worked at Hill Air Force Base. On the side, he started his own business, “Lawler’s Mobile Tune Up,” fixing cars wherever they were located. He ran that business for 35 years. Once retired from Hill AFB, he spent most of his time tending grandchildren, something he treasured.
He has been a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ogden since 1946. He was a Knights of Columbus, and spent 50 years helping Allie with church design, hauling instruments in for special celebrations, and keeping the priests’ cars in working order.
He loved going to Wendover, creating unique birdhouses and attending car shows. He also loved time with family.
William is survived by his children, Francis (Margaret) Lawler of Ogden, Teresa (Dennis) Hawkins of Ogden, Joyce Hawkins of Ogden, Mary (Tom) Ryan of Sandy, Deana (Edward) Balistrire-Newren of Syracuse, Utah, Geraldine Lawler-Suski of Ogden, and Thongsy Darasouk of Roy, Utah; 18 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.
He is also survived by his siblings, Sr. Gabriel “Edna” Lawler, of Omaha, Nebraska, Sr. Rachel Lawler of Ruma, Illinois, Theresa (Cletus) Drone of St. James, Missouri, Margaret Fredrickson of Lewiston, Maine, and special cousin Kathleen Holaday of Orlando, Florida, who was raised as his sibling.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Allie Lee; sisters, Sr. Alma “Eva” Lawler, Sr. Lorita “Etta” Lawler, and Louise Cook; and daughter-in-law, Chanhday Darasouk.
The Funeral Mass will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 514 24th St., in Ogden, Utah. Friends may visit with family from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9, with Rosary at 7 p.m. at Lindquist’s Ogden Mortuary, 3408 Washington Blvd. Graveside services will be held on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 at the Evanston City Cemetery, in Evanston, Wyoming.
Condolences may be shared at www.lindquistmortuary.com.