Mary Louise Lawton

Written By: Leo Lawton

March 2, 2022

Mary was born November 21, 1931 in Ogdensburg, New York, the third child and eldest girl of the marriage of Lloyd Benjamin and Alice Pearl (Halladay) Lawton. She was raised as the daughter all parents love; pretty, witty, healthy, and loved by all. She attended and graduated from Ogdensburg Free Academy in June 1949 at age 17 years. She loved to attend what were called round and square dances which were prevalent at the time. Mary’s brother Lawrence had wed Patricia Pierce of Heuvelton, New York. In turn Patricia’s brother Raymond Pierce and Mary became very good friends.

I recall an evening when Mary and I sat at our kitchen table each doing our school homework. A fly was buzzing around us, and Mary deftly reached out with one hand and caught it. I was nearly dumbfounded. She put it in a glass half full of water she had been sipping. It remained for several minutes before she removed it and placed it on the table where it remained apparently dead. Mary asked if I thought it was dead, and I answered yes. She poured a small quantity of salt onto the table and placed the fly in it. A minute or so later it flew away. I could hardly believe what I had just seen.Another evening I remember was when she asked me what m-a-c-d-u-f-f spelled. I told her MacDuff. She then asked what m-a-c-d-o-n-a-l-d spelled and I told her. Still next time she asked me what did m-a-c-h-i-n-e spell. I told her MacHine. She said “It does not. Don’t you know how to spell machine?”

She found work as a bookkeeper in a public accountant’s office in Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, but in 1950 she began having sharp pains in her head. She was found to have a growing tumor behind her left eye at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York which caused pressure on her brain. She had to terminate her job due to very poor eyesight caused by the growth of the unforgiving tumor. It was considered inoperable with the technical procedures existing at the time.

Three years slowly passed as Mary’s pain was ever increasing. She remained at home where our mother gave her all the care she possibly could, but the inexorable pain hardly ever eased. On Christmas Eve 1953 she was screaming at the pain which got worse as the hours passed. Our parents called for an ambulance to take her to the hospital, and she died there before midnight December 24, 1953.

Additional Info From Leo’s Sister Lori:

Mom told me Mary had come home from her Watertown job for a visit and was dressing Rose and Jane. She told Mom she needed socks for them and Mom told her they were right in front of her and maybe she needed to get her eyes checked. Mary then went to eye doctor to see if she needed glasses and that was the beginning. Mom always thought it was caused because Mary had been at a school dance and fell and hit her head really hard in the hard gym floor. I don’t know if that is true or even possible.

A funny story is after I was born and was a toddler. Mary’s eyesight had gotten really bad. She helped mom by making the kids lunches for school. There was a big flour can next to the cabinet where she made the sandwiches. She would sit me on the flour can to watch. She would put the bologna on the bread and I would snitch it off. With her bad eyesight she wouldn’t notice and the kids would get to school to find empty sandwiches.