Elizabeth Hamann Lawrence ’52 died on February 13, 2014, at age 83, mourned and missed by her sister-in-law, Elaine Lopez Hamann ’60, and her niece and three nephews whom she had doted on all her life.
Just a few months later, her estate fulfilled a long-standing promise: a gift of $30,000 to benefit Wagner College and its students — a gift she and her late husband, Douglas Lawrence ’52, had planned at least 17 years earlier.
Liz and Doug both attended Wagner College from 1948 to 1952, and that is how they met. They spent most of their lives in places far away from Staten Island, with work taking them to the Chicago area and retirement taking them to Murray, Kentucky. But they never forgot their gratitude and affection for the College that brought them together.
Liz was born in Manhattan, the daughter of German immigrants. Wagner College offered her a high-quality, Lutheran education not too far from home — but it also gave her enough distance to spread her wings. She majored in German and Spanish and was involved in Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, the German Club, and the Chess Club.
In the post-war years of the late 1940s, the campus was full of veterans attending college on the GI Bill. One of them was Sgt. Doug Lawrence, a New Jersey native and history major. In 1942–46, he had served in the Army Air Force and had flown 42 combat missions, including the notorious “Hump Run” over the Himalayas.
A vivacious, intelligent young woman with curly black hair, Liz caught the eye of this man who had already seen so much of the world. Their romance blossomed into a beautiful marriage of 50 years, which ended with Doug’s death in 2002.
Liz’s younger brother, Herman Hamann ’60, followed in her footsteps to Wagner — and to marriage to a Wagner classmate as well, Elaine Lopez ’60.
Liz went on to a 20-year career with AT&T, while Doug worked for Rand McNally in cartography and also sold industrial products for a Japanese company. They stayed in close touch with their family back East, especially Herman and Elaine’s children. Herman died in 2008. Liz lived with her niece, Caroline Murphy, in New Jersey for the last two years of her life. One of the few things she kept until the end was a framed set of pictures taken at Wagner College in 1948–52.
“Wagner got Liz to see the world from a more cosmopolitan perspective,” remembers Chris Hamann, one of her nephews. “She was forever grateful.”