Walter Lawrence: What You Don’t Know

Walter Lawrence, Jr., M.D., has achieved almost legendary status since he stepped onto the MCV Campus in 1966. Though he’s officially retired, he’s never left, still serving as a sounding board for physicians and administrators, and volunteering on the School of Medicine’s admissions committee.

Walter Lawrence

This story was published in the fall issue of the medical school’s 12th & Marshall magazine

Lawrence had an illustrious medical career: performing some of the nation’s first kidney transplants; receiving the Sloan Award from Alfred P. Sloan himself; establishing the first Division of Surgical Oncology in the U.S. He’s a sought-after leader, having served as national president of the American Cancer Society and the Society of Surgical Oncology.

But he’s loyal to his first love: when tapped to be the founding director of VCU’s Massey Cancer Center, a position he held for 14 years, he insisted that he had to continue to perform surgery in addition to his administrative duties.

He’s known as a gracious and generous colleague, who’s quick to credit his fellow practitioners for picking up the slack when he was required to travel extensively. At age 90, he’s still working part-time and teaching in the medical school and at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.

His passions extend far beyond his teaching, the operating room and research lab. An early – and effective – crusader against tobacco use, he’s also spoken out against firearms and torture.

Did you know?

This story first appeared in the fall 2015 issue of the medical school’s alumni magazine, 12th & Marshall. You can flip through the whole issue online.

But his true passion has always been family. He remains devoted to Susie, his wife of 68 years whom he met as a college freshman, and to his four children and eight grandchildren.

By Lisa Crutchfield