Tribute to H. B. Lawrence

by Laurel | February 19th, 2012

Note: on March 4, 1913 it was voted by the School Board / Committee to rename the Appleton Street School to the H. B. Lawrence School in honor of H. B. Lawrence, and additionally to use the H.B. Lawrence name when a new grammar school was built. The dedication of the new H.B. Lawrence School took place on March 8, 1932, and though nineteen years in the works, H. B. Lawrence’s widow did attend the dedication. The image below was taken by my dad around 1971, who taught there from 1969 until Peck School opened. Scanned from a transparency.

H. B. Lawrence School, About 1971

H. B. Lawrence School, About 1971

19 February 1911

At Grammar Masters’ Club

Principal John Callahan of Holyoke Eulogizes Fellow Worker

A meeting of the Connecticut Valley grammar masters club at Cooley’s hotel yesterday was notable, with a strong tribute paid to the late Principal Hiram B. Lawrence of Holyoke by Principal John A. Callahan of Holyoke, and an address on “Race prejudice in America” by J. Hockenberry of the Westfield Normal School faculty. The speaker declared that there was no limit to the future greatness of that American race which will result from the amalgamation of all the different nationalities that are flocking to this land. While he believed that heredity had much to do in the producing of leaders among nations and individuals, yet he declared that environment had a much greater influence than it had been given credit for in the past. The following resolutions were adopted in memory of H.B. Lawrence:–

We, the members of the Connecticut Valley grammar masters’ club, having learned of the death of our associate principal, Hiram B. Lawrence of Holyoke, desire to place on record our deep sorrow for our loss, and therefore subscribe to these resolutions in regular meeting assembled :—

Resolved, That we feel a personal bereavement in the loss of his loving companionship, his ever-friendly greetings, his quaint humor, his wise counsels and his able leadership.

Resolved, That this club has lost a member whose memory will be revered for his marked personality, his broad and liberal sympathies, and his noble manhood.

Resolved. That the teaching profession has lost a member of great power, of high ideals, and of remarkable influence for goof in the field where his work was done.

Resolved, That we extend to the bereaved family out sincere sympathy in this hour of their sorrow.

Resolved, That the city he served so faithfully and so long should honor his memory in some appropriate way, by giving his name to some public school building.

Resolved, That these resolutions be spread on the records of our club, that a copy be sent to the family and to the school board of Holyoke.

John A. Callahan

W.G. Judd

John J. Lynch

M. J. Greaney

Tribute to Hiram B. Lawrence

The tribute of Principal John Callahan to Hiram B. Lawrence follows.–

For one who has not lived in Holyoke it is difficult to understand the claims made in giving an estimate of this man’s life and character and influence. There are great and good principals in all cities, it is true, and we are all glad that it is so; yet I doubt if there have been many in New England who so thoroughly won and held for a period of nearly 40 years, the respect, confidence, loyalty and love of the whole community as did the late Principal Lawrence. This power that led to his success came from two sources; from his generous, honest and courageous nature, and from the experiences and struggles in his early life that made him have sympathy for all humanity.

Mr. Lawrence was a thorough school man. His services in this field were very comprehensive and were rendered in three states. In Main he taught in a country district school, in a grammar school and in a high school, having been principal in the latter two positions He taught in an academy in New Hampshire, and for 38 years in a grammar school in Massachusetts. When he secured this last position in a large town which the next year after his arrival became a city, it seems very plain that he decided to seek no more for a better place, but to cast anchor, and make there his life work and his home.

He began by doing most thoroughly the regular work prescribed in the course, so far as his own recitations were concerned, and watched over all the other work in the school with such care as to assist his teachers in their regular duties and sustain them in discipline. His school might well be called a business institution of you mean by this term that it was conducted on business principles and that no pupils were allowed to waste their time.

In addition to his regular work he looked around for means to arouse the interest and enlarge the experiences and vision of his pupils. He had entertainments, exhibitions of school work and speaking and with money thus raised he established and developed a fine museum of natural hstory, mostly animals and birds and an excellent teachers’ library. To make this money go as far as possible, many of the birds and animals were mounted by his own hands. About 14 years ago he raised a large sum of money by personal efforts and placed on the walls of his school a fine collection of pictures covering every field of interest in education. In the art catalog of the Highlands school you will see that I pay him tribute for much encouragement and unselfish advice given me when I was later doing work in the same line.

He attended Martha’s Vineyard summer school and the Clark University summer school at Worcester, and this showed his determination to keep pace with the march of progress. He taught classes and had regular recitation periods to the very end of his life work. He was more than a supervising principal, he was a teacher, and a teacher of the first order. He had a strong, broad, keen, well stored mind, and the influence of it on the school was constant and effective.

He knew full well that the principal who does not teach classes fails in the most important feature of his mission, in that he does not have that close contact and companionship which are found only while teaching in the classroom, and which produce that mutual confidence and good will which are necessary in order that the teacher may influence the pupils in the right direction. This is of course the great function of the teacher, and in this feature of school work he was a great success. His moral influence over his large classes of pupils for nearly 40 years can never be measured by man. he insisted on punctuality, truthfulness, honesty in work and word, faithfulness to duty, and above all respect for authority. His decisions between right and wrong were quick, sharp, and decisive, and woe unto the one who tried to deceive hi in these matters. A penalty was due and a penalty was paid — a splendid lesson for life — even if not appreciated at the time.
A large part of his success was due to his willingness to give honest service for every dollar that he received, and to do far more than rules and regulations requires. He did not claim that the world owed him a living. The world owed him nothing until he had earned something, and that something he was willing to earn in whatever way he found necessary, and that without complaint. He did not depend for his success on politics or on influence, but upon that merit which was a part of his personality and which could never be separated from it.

What a lesson there is here for so many young men; for those who will not work unless they get large pay; who want easy jobs and short hours,; who want offices created for them, and soon find it hard and tiresome to fill them; who never like their work and wish they had selected something else to do in life; who are complaining of the poverty of the world, instead of trying to enrich it by excellent service; who are trying to get wealth without earning it, and honor without deserving it. Oh what a lesson is here! A lesson of faithfulness to duty, of continues perseverance, of high ambitions and uncomplaining toil; of strict honesty, of business honor and unfailing devotion to the public trust that he held and honored.

But the most pleasant feature of all is that this devotion and faithfulness remained to the end; for the excellence of his work increased till the very close of his life, and proves that often the best service is rendered, not by the young, but by those who are old and gray. Longfellow might well be quoted here; for he was a graduate of the same college as was the one whom we commemorate, and a son of the same state. In 1875 he red a poem at the 50th anniversary of his class in Brunswick, Maine, the seat of Bowdoin College. Our Cambridge poet shows in beautiful lines that many of the great men of the world did their best work when youth and middle life had long since passed. Here are a few of the many lines:–

Chaucer, at Woodstock, with the nightingales,

At sixty composed the Canterbury Tales.

Goethe, at Weimer, toiling to the last,

Completed Faust when eighty years were past.

Our dear fiend was nearly 70 when his great work was laid down. He seemed to have a premonition of death, for at his last club meeting he read a paper on a distinctly religious subject, and spoke with reverence of the future life.

It is rather a time for congratulations and rejoicing; rejoicing for great success under difficulties; for victories won against great odds’ for a character developed and kept unsullied to the end; for a life filled with good deeds, and brought to a close amidst universal tokens of love and honor. “Well done” was the verdict from every source where his work was done or his influence felt; from the pupils that he loved; from the parents whose homes he helped to build; from the city that he served and honored. We can more than hope, we can believe that in another life he has heard “Well done.”

I will not say that we shall miss him, for we all will feel that he is with us. We shall feel his influence and his spiritual presence. Uhland, the German poet, is now but little known and read; yet he has many poems of pathos and deep spiritual beauty. In one of them he tells of a journey over the water with two friends near and dear to him. Many years later, after the two friends had passed from life, he made the same journey alone. But it was not alone, for he felt the spiritual presence of the two friends as much as before; and so strong was this feeling that he searched for the boatman and insisted on paying their fare: —

Take, O Boatman, thrice they fee,

Take, I give it willingly;

For invisible to thee,

Spirits twain have crossed with me.

So shall it be with us as it was with the German poet and his friends. We shall feel the presence of our friend, as if he were with ih us, and in that presence we shall find a source of encouragement and inspiration, while his name shall be remembered among the foremost of Holyoke’s honored dead.

From The Springfield Republican.

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